PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – United St Maarten Party (USP) Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell is very concerned about the current state of affairs pertaining to the mental health of persons in our community. It is now of utmost urgency that this phenomenon is addressed and the necessary measures taken to improve on the health and social welfare of the most vulnerable. We are faced with many challenges caused by uncontrollable developments that are have been plaguing the island for some time. After the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017 many persons have lost the comfort of their homes and/or their income, and are now facing and dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic that is spreading havoc worldwide.
This pandemic has caused many businesses to close or downsize their operations, which resulted in either laying off employees or cutting their salaries by as much as 50%. The mandatory early closure of night life businesses, such as night clubs and casinos, due to lack of adherence to the guidelines imposed by government to curb the spread of Covid-19 virus presents additional hardship to those effected by the measures.
The effects of these unforeseen tragedies have led to an increase in many persons suffering from underlying mental health issues and mental health conditions, due to fear, uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness, hunger, bills to be paid and the grief of the losing one’s job, and the loss of a loved one.
This, the MP says, now raises the questions if the Mental Health Foundation receives adequate funding to continue assisting those in need of such care, and if there are any ongoing food drives ahead to facilitate those in need? “It is a noticeable fact that the homeless and jobless are experiencing grave social challenges that at times has become so unbearable that the result thereof emerge to mental illness. This is definitely a top-of-mind issue and one that we should be eager to tackle” MP Arrindell concluded.
Every day we encounter numbers of persons that are mentally ill, roaming the streets and sleeping on the pavement or on benches. In some isolated cases some have been seen walking half or totally naked on the public roads.
These persons are not only a threat to themselves but also to the community, due to their dysfunctional behavior. They are in dire need of attention and help. While most of these are persons roaming the streets are known by many in society, there are those that society is unaware of as these are kept at home and are cared for by family members.
There are persons that are known to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), but due to the lack of adequate space at the mental health facilities to house these persons/patients, they are taken care of by the mental health ambulance care team that goes into the communities daily to visit mental health patients, dispense medicines and provide other services such as guidance and counseling to patients and their families. The MP wonders if anything is being done to improve the Mental Health Facility since Covid-19? “Too many families are dealing with the stress of a family member or loved one suffering from mental illness, which is nothing to be ashamed of”, MP Arrindell said. “It is a medical problem that causes changes in the patient’s emotion, way of thinking, and behavior or a combination of all three.
Mental disorder can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender, career or wealth.” MP Arrindell noted.
Due to the increasing amount of mental health cases, the time has come for all of us to join hands and take “the bull by the horn’ without further delay.
We are rapidly going down the hill with the present situation on our island and this needs to be seriously addressed post haste, with all hands on deck.
It is time for leaders, the business community and our society to come together on Mental Health. Having a primary health care system in our community for our community, will result in the need for more care in the communities to prevent the need for costly hospital admissions, as our hospital should not be the place for the admittance of patients with a mental health illness. The challenges ahead of us is great where it concerns the short term and long term health requirements for mental health patients. Despite that fact, new patients, current or ex-patients should not be left roaming the streets or living or sleeping on sidewalks.
We have to act now!