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SAVE Guyana Initiative
Dr Dheeraj Bansal, Dean of Texila American University College of Medicine, and Dr. Devendranand Sharma, Professor and Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs have invited guest speakers at the workshop on mental health organized by S.A.V.E. Guyana and the Demerara Harbor Bridge Corporation at the DHB board room. The workshop was focused on mental health, components of mental health, the range of mental illnesses, and how can we diagnose them and prevent extreme outcomes such as suicide.
Dr Bansal talked about the extent of mental illness globally and in Guyana as the burden of mental illness in Guyana is more than TB, Malaria, and HIV combined. He discussed with the participants the basic components of mental health, such as emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social well-being. He explained the spectrum of mental health problems which could be very mild to very severe forms with significant clinical manifestations. He told that mental illness follows the “iceberg phenomenon”. This means that only a small percentage of total mental illness is visible, and a much bigger percentage goes undiagnosed.
Dr Bansal introduced the concept of the “Mind Body relationship” to the audience present and discussed the comparisons between physical health and mental health. It was discussed that how it is socially acceptable to talk about physical health problems but there is a social stigma in the form of shame and guilt when it comes to mental health problems. Dr Bansal stressed on the need to make mental illness more socially acceptable. There is an urgent need to make the community more aware of this condition and plan activities for them to have a better understanding of mental health illness.
He mentioned the need to organize training sessions for the schoolteachers and parents to identify such illnesses early on. Dr Bansal also emphasized that we need more professionals, more services, and advocacy groups focused on mental health and related problems. Dr. Sharma focuses on focused on suicide and the stigma against mental illnesses The other guest speaker for the workshop was Mr. Nazim Hussein, CEO, of S.A.V.E. Guyana. Overall, the session was highly interactive, with active participation from the workshop attendees, and it was very informative in terms of mental health diseases and related issues.