Ms. Shelisa Martin-Clarke, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis –- “It’s World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is, “Mental Health for All – Greater Investment – Greater Access.” World Mental Health Day 2020 calls for equality for everyone, everywhere, said Ms. Shelisa Martin-Clarke, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), speaking on behalf of Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health on Nevis.

“Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community,” explained Ms. Martin-Clarke. “Mental illness, neurological and behavioural disorders are common to all countries and cause immense suffering. People with these disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and increased mortality.

“In fact, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives,” she said. “Data also shows that around 450,000,000 people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide.

“Moreover, the new realities of COVID-19 such as adapting to lifestyle changes, temporary unemployment, physical distancing, the wearing of masks, managing the fear of contracting the virus and worrying about persons close to us who are particularly vulnerable, are challenges for all of us. These new realities can be especially difficult for persons with mental health conditions. Even our frontline workers are at risk of work-related stress, which may lead to mental ill health and job burnout.

“The Nevis Island Administration is committed to “investing in the mental health of its people” and by improving access to mental health services for all ages,” said Ms. Martin-Clarke.

“Clients have access to the services of a psychiatrist, a psychiatric nurse and trained mental health counsellors. Medication is provided in the public health system at no cost to clients or their families. Through inter-ministry collaboration, that is the Mental Health Unit, Social Services and the Education system, we provide counselling and other mental health services to anyone in need.

“The administration is also mindful that caregivers experience high levels of stress caring for loved ones afflicted with mental illness that may have less time engaging in employment. In most cases, the NIA provides financial assistance or food vouchers through the Social Services department to assist these individuals and their families.

“While the administration commits to providing greater access and investments in mental health, we urge individuals to invest in their own mental health particularly as we manoeuvre through the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We remind you therefore of these few tips:
• Get plenty of rest.
• Eat and maintain a healthy diet.
• Exercise regularly.
• Keep up with personal hygiene.
• Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs.
• Make time for doing things you enjoy.
• Be sociable; talk to family and friends about your feelings and experiences.
• Practise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and gentle stretching.
• Know that it is okay to draw boundaries and say “No.”
• Engage in spiritual practice.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone.

Ms. Martin-Clarke concluded saying, “We commend the staff of the Community Mental Health Unit for their tireless work in providing and promoting effective mental health care and rehabilitative services and for reminding us all that “There is no health without mental health!”