The workshop took the format of daily sessions running from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. hosted at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Conference Room and was facilitated by Dr. Elma Augustine an expert consultant engaged through PAHO.
Dr. Augustine, a clinical psychologist with more than 30 years of experience, explained to the participants that there are three core blocks to crisis intervention training; knowledge building, sensitization and de-escalation and that it is all held together with teamwork.
“The team is going to be a unified front with people in the Ministry of Health, people in law enforcement, and advocates in the community and consumers, all working together to build this program,” said Dr Augustine. “I’m very excited about this because to me the bottom line is safety, of course. Safety for the officers, the person, and the community. But the other bottom line that’s very important to me is trying to eradicate stigma. People with mental illness are human beings. And if we can understand that and realize we’re all vulnerable, you know, that I think will go a long, long way.”
The Ministry of Health recognizes the significant increase in the number of individuals seeking Mental and Behavioral Health Services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this trend, the Ministry understands the importance of engaging key stakeholders, including our valued First Responders, in training sessions to enhance their preparedness in crisis intervention situations.
“The Ministry of Health is very grateful to PAHO for making the crisis intervention training possible. The first responders were given training to equip them with the knowledge of how to respond to mental health crises in the field. De-escalation techniques, understanding mental health disorders, suicide prevention, and handling the affected persons in a safe way while maintaining control over the situation were among the topics discussed,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sharon Archibald.
“The Ministry of Health is committed to addressing mental health in the Federation and more training in this area will be made available in the near future,” continued Dr. Archibald
The work continues on the Mental Health legislation which began with a stakeholder consultation in August. This workshop will contribute to strengthening our healthcare system’s ability to address mental health challenges and provide compassionate care to those in crisis. The Ministry thanks dedicated healthcare professionals and security forces and community partners for their enthusiastic support and active participation in this workshop.