Stigma still a deterrent to people seeking help for mental illness

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The stigma associated with mental illness is still a major barrier to people seeking treatment, this is according to a public health official assigned to the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital.
Nurse Cavell Morris-Willis, a registered nurse, with specialised training in mental illness, explains that because of stigma a number of people are now turning to private doctors for help instead of visiting Clarevue for specialised treatment or advice.
“Even though the name of Clarevue has changed from, Mental Asylum to now Clarevue, people are still shying away from visiting the facility. Once you step foot at Clarevue, there is a general assumption that that individual is crazy and something is wrong with them,” Morris-Willis said.
The registered nurse said life changes and people’s inability to cope with situational changes, are among the key contributing factors to mental illness and some people will manifest different symptoms in trying to cope while some resort to suicide.
She said that while the signs are different, in some cases, it is very easy for relatives or family members who are very close to the person to detect that they are experiencing challenges.
“If you know that a relative is behaving outside of the norm, then a red flag should be going off indicating that something needs to be done. Even for youth, if you see a change in your child’s behavioural pattern, then you need to sit with that child and find out what is happening,” Morris-Willis said.
The health official is also appealing to members of the public to sympathise with people suffering from mental illness, stressing that they too are human beings.
Authorities at the mental health facility have set aside this entire week to zero in on the issue of mental health awareness through public education.
The week of activities began on Sunday with a church service the St. Johnson’s Village Church of Nazarene. During the course of the week, medical practitioners at Clarevue will interact with students from various secondary schools on the island, educating them about mental illness and coping skills to deal with challenges they may encounter.
The curtain will come down on Saturday with a Cricket match to be held at the Police Recreation Grounds on Factory Road. Patients and Staff at the hospital will come up against the Liberta Sports Club in the match slated to begin at 9 a.m.

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