Nurse appeals for more sensitivity when dealing with folks with mental health issues

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A psychiatric nurse is calling for greater sensitivity in dealing with issues of mental health and those who may be displaying signs of mental illness.

Nurse Cavell Morris Willis revealed that people can begin by not recording individuals who are mentally ill for entertainment.

“Persons are experiencing difficulties now and I think it is unfair for persons, that the first thing they lend a hand is to video these persons while they are going through their difficulties. I would ask persons to please desist from doing that; it is not humane. It is not something to be laughed at. The persons are already distressed. They are already going through what they are going through and for you to be videotaping what is happening and sending it all over social media, it says a lot about you as an individual and it says a lot about the society because we are entertaining it as well. So, lend a hand. If you have to call the police to get this person’s assistance you do that or call the relevant authorities but don’t laugh and encourage them to continue doing these things,” Nurse Morris Willis said.

Antigua and Barbuda will join the World in celebrating Mental Health Day on Sunday 10th October. 

Nurse Morris Willis agreed that mental health is still not getting the level of focus it requires often leading to stigma and discrimination.

“Persons who suffer from mental illnesses, they are — I wouldn’t say shunned by society — but they are not given a fair chance. They don’t get equal opportunity when it comes to education. They don’t get equal opportunities when it comes to employment and even with their treatment because some persons because of the stigma and discrimination that is associated with mental illness, they are even fearful of seeking help until it is too late,” she added.

The health official believes that other persons besides those associated with the mental hospital and social programmes need to open their own doors and implement programmes to join with what is already presently available.

She mentioned that even now, people continue to struggle with mental health issues given the stresses brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Persons are faced with a lot of things happening. Just the change that they are experiencing now — wearing of the masks, socially isolating, not being able to contact family members. Persons are losing jobs. Persons are even losing family members, so they are going through grief and bereavement at this time. What would it take for a person to move from what they consider normal in mental illness? My experience is rooted in thinking that there is a thin line between sanity and insanity meaning that you never know when where or how you are going to cross over that line,” Morris Willis mentioned.

In commemoration of the October 10 observation of World Mental Health Day, the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital to which Nurse Morris Willis is attached, will be having a week of scaled down activities.

She outlined that “on Sunday, we will have an opening ceremony. Monday and Tuesday are usually dedicated to our media blitz and Wednesday is T-shirt Day and we have been selling T-shirts and dedicating them to construct a suicide and isolation room. Thursday is a free day; we wanted to have a sports day but couldn’t, but on Friday we will have a movie night with our patients. On Saturday, which is the closing day, it is identified for our social night for the workers but we had to cut it out but we will have a take-out lunch instead”.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2021 is Mental Health in an Unequal World.

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