Arrindell: ‘We have to act now’ to address mental health issues | THE DAILY HERALD

MP Akeem Arrindell

PHILIPSBURG–United St. Maarten Party (US Party) Member of Parliament (MP) Akeem Arrindell said on Thursday that urgent action is needed to address mental health issues in the country.

  Arrindell said in a press release that he is very concerned about the current state of affairs as it relates to the mental health of persons in the community. “It is now of utmost urgency that this phenomenon is addressed and the necessary measures taken to improve on the health and social welfare of the most vulnerable. We are faced with many challenges caused by uncontrollable developments that have been plaguing the island for some time,” Arrindell said.

  He said that following the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017, many persons lost the comfort of their homes and/or income, and are now facing and dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  “This pandemic has caused many businesses to close or downsize their operations, which resulted in either laying off employees or cutting their salaries by as much as 50 per cent. The mandatory early closure of nightlife businesses such as nightclubs and casinos due to lack of adherence to the guidelines imposed by government to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus presents additional hardship to those affected by the measures.”

  Arrindell said these effects have led to an increase in many persons suffering from underlying mental health issues and mental health conditions, due to fear, uncertainty, anxiety, loneliness, hunger, bills to be paid and the grief of losing one’s job, and the loss of a loved one.

  This, he says, now raises the questions whether Mental Health Foundation (MHF) receives adequate funding to continue assisting those in need of such care, and whether there are any ongoing food drives ahead to facilitate those in need.

  “It is a noticeable fact that the homeless and jobless are experiencing grave social challenges that at times have become so unbearable that the result thereof emerge to mental illness. This is definitely a top-of-mind issue and one that we should be eager to tackle,” Arrindell said.

  “Every day we encounter numbers of persons that are mentally ill, roaming the streets and sleeping on the pavement or on benches. In some isolated cases, some have been seen walking half or totally naked on the public roads. These persons are not only a threat to themselves, but also to the community due to their dysfunctional behaviour. They are in dire need of attention and help.

  “While most of these persons roaming the streets are known by many in society, there are those that society is unaware of as these are kept at home and are cared for by family members.

  “There are persons that are known to the MHF, but due to the lack of adequate space at the mental health facilities to house these persons/patients, they are taken care of by the mental health ambulance care team that goes into the communities daily to visit mental health patients, dispense medicines and provide other services such as guidance and counselling to patients and their families.”

  Arrindell wonders whether anything is being done to improve the mental health facility since COVID-19.

  “Too many families are dealing with the stress of a family member or loved one suffering from mental illness, which is nothing to be ashamed of,” Arrindell said. “It is a medical problem that causes changes in the patient’s emotions, way of thinking, and behaviour, or a combination of all three.”

  He said mental disorder can affect anyone irrespective of their age, gender, career or wealth. “Due to the increasing amount of mental health cases, the time has come for all of us to join hands and take ‘the bull by the horn’ without further delay. We are rapidly going down the hill with the present situation on our island and this needs to be seriously addressed post-haste, with all hands on deck.

  “It is time for leaders, the business community and our society to come together on mental health. Having a primary health care system in our community for our community will result in the need for more care in the communities to prevent the need for costly hospital admissions, as our hospital should not be the place for the admittance of patients with a mental health illness.

  “The challenge ahead of us is great where it concerns the short-term and long-term health requirements for mental health patients. Despite that fact, new patients, current or ex-patients should not be left roaming the streets or living or sleeping on sidewalks,” he said. “We have to act now.”

Source: The Daily Herald