Gov’t urged to implement new policies to treat suicide, mental illness

The New York-based group, Caribbean Voice has welcomed the new APNU+AFC government and hopes that it will accommodate and implement new policies and approaches to treat suicide and related social pathologies.

In a press release, the Caribbean Voice said for some time now it has been advocating for measures to be implemented “to build concerted efforts to tackle suicide, abuse, sex crimes and other social pathologies.” To this end, the publication met with ministers in the last government, the then AFC and APNU political parties and other stakeholders including the Rights of the Child Commission and the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, and it hopes to be accommodated by the new cabinet to draft and activate an action plan.

The action plan should include the relaunching of the Gatekeepers programme; empowering the Pesticides Control Board to implement the Sri Lankan Model of Hazard Reduction, which reduced suicide in that country by 50% in less than a decade; decriminalise attempted suicide, provide at least one social worker in each administrative district and publicise this service; establish and publicise a registry of sex offenders; introduce a national programme to tackle alcoholism and drug abuse; implement nationwide training for all police officers with respect to handling suicide, abuse and related issues and inform them of the provisions of all related laws; setting up suicide and abuse hotlines manned by trained personnel and compiling a national list of trained personnel who can provide further support to the hotlines, the statement said.

In taking the lead on this issue, the group is hosting a National Stakeholders Conference at the Cara Hotel on August 21, in collaboration with Cara Hotel, Save Abee Foundation, Office Resources Inc and a number of other entities. The Caribbean Voice plans to meet Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence on this issue and hopes that she would endorse a number of proposals made by the previous education minister, particularly that every school must have a school counsellor or at least one teacher in every school trained to provide counselling.

Caribbean Voice also hopes that the long awaited mental health programme would be reworked to include wide consultations with all stakeholders then formalised and rolled-out. Other religious organisations and NGOs such as CADVA, the GRPA, CIOG and Monique’s Helping Hands “have a slew of great ideas that need to be given consideration.

Thus we believe that an accommodation with all NGOs and activists on the social landscape should be facilitated and a concerted program initiated so mapping can be done and no area would thus be neglected,” the press release said.

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