Families Given Advice On How To Deal With Relatives Dealing With A Mental Illness

Chief Probation Officer in the Community Affairs Division within the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, Lisa Bowleg spoke on how family members can deal with relatives dealing with a mental illness during the International Day of Families Forum held at National Training Agency on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson)
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Nassau, Bahamas – Chief Probation Officer in the Community Affairs Division within the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, Lisa Bowleg said mental illness is a real illness.


Chief Probation Officer in the Community Affairs Division within the Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, Lisa Bowleg spoke on how family members can deal with relatives dealing with a mental illness during the International Day of Families Forum held at National Training Agency on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson)

“There is no disgrace in being unwell mentally just as it is no disgrace having cancer or diabetes.  We did not choose it; it is something that happens,” the Chief Probation Officer said during an International Day of Families Forum held at the National Training Agency on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

The Ministry of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting hosted the Forum with its partners as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

Ms. Bowleg said while family members must uplift, support and encourage each other when things happen, it is more important to love one another.  “That is what is going to get us through every situation.”

She also noted that everyone, at some point, experiences some level of emotional instability such as the loss of a loved one, a car accident, home breakings, the birth of a child, marriage, or a natural disaster.

Ms. Bowleg said the United States recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month and this year’s theme is ‘Take a Moment.’

“So, we are going to take a moment to think about it, we are going to take a moment to talk about it and we are going to take another moment to think about it again.

“The first thing, I want us to think about is the person on the other side of the desk for those of us that are professionals; to think about those on the other side of the room for those of us who are family members and the person on the other side of the aisle for those of who are church or community members, because, only [but] through the Grace of God, there go we.”

She said when people see their family members going through something, they need to pause and ask what is happening and then find out how they can be of assistance.

“Sometimes it takes a listening ear.  Sometimes it takes knowledge – knowledge in a sense that if this person is going through a situation that requires clinical assistance, we need to know where to go.”

The Chief Probation Officer explained that there is the Health Social Services attached to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre for in-patient treatment for persons who are struggling to the point where they need to be monitored.

She said there is also Health Social Services and Community Counselling for out-patients.  People can go or be referred for professional help for no cost.

Ms. Bowleg said the Bahamas Psychological Association is another resource, which provides services for children and adults with mental health challenges.

However, she said simply knowing about the illness is not enough for families.  Simply knowing where to take a loved one if they get ill is not enough.

“We now need to understand what that illness is about, how that illness is going to affect your loved one and your entire family unit, because it is just not about that person.  Everybody in that household is affected.”

Furthermore, Ms. Bowleg said the public needs to understand that mental illness is not a curse.

“It is not something that we can pray away.  We have to know the difference in what we are dealing with.”

The Chief Probation Officer said, “There are some people who have genuine situations that need the wisdom of the doctor that God gave to the doctor.”

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