Nevis observes World Mental Health Day, Jr. Health Minister Brandy-Williams delivers address

Hon. Hazel Brandy Williams, Jr. Minister of Health and Gender Affairs on Nevis (file photo)

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 10, 2022) — The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Jr. Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), in observance of World Mental Health Day 2022.

Today Monday 10 October “World Mental Health Day,” we join the rest of the world in promoting this year’s campaign theme “Making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.”

Mental ill health is a growing problem. More people than ever throughout the world and even here in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis are experiencing poor mental health, due to issues such as unemployment, relationship challenges, and the rising cost of living.  World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma and discrimination.

Sadly, stigma and discrimination, according to the World Health Organization, continues to be a barrier to social inclusion and access to the appropriate care. People with lived experience of mental health problems continue to encounter many restrictions in accessing quality and affordable mental health care. We can all play our part in increasing awareness about which preventive mental health interventions work and World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to do that collectively.  To this end, the Mental Health Unit, as part of its week of activities starting 9th to 15th October, will be hosting an Awareness and Sensitivity workshop for healthcare and other professionals working with people living with mental illnesses. This workshop seeks to promote awareness and advocacy, and also to strengthen the collaboration and commitment of key stakeholders with the mental health services here on Nevis.

The Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs pledges to continue strengthening mental health care so that “the full spectrum of mental health needs is met through a community-based network of accessible, affordable and quality services and supports.” To note, our Mental Health Unit here in Nevis has recently relocated its operations in Prospect to a much more spacious and comfortable space with additional staffing, making it much more conducive for patient care.

We envision Nevis as an island in which mental health is valued, promoted, and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy good mental health and exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the mental health care they need. Effective treatment does exist for almost all mental health conditions, and partial or full recovery is a very real possibility for everyone.

Let us make mental health and well-being our priority. We call, therefore, on all service providers and health professionals to encourage people living with mental health conditions to access the care they so rightly deserve without fear of discrimination, labeling, or biases. We make a further appeal to you our citizens to take care of yourselves.  Take care of your mental health.

Remember, healthy people, mean healthier communities and healthier communities mean a healthier nation!

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