PHILIPSBURG–Director of The Quill Foundation Kenneth Cuvalay has issued an urgent appeal for the rebuilding of the mental healthcare facilities in St. Maarten.
The Quill Foundation is based in the Netherlands. Cuvalay said the facilities are needed to help people in St. Maarten with psychological problems and health issues in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Cuvalay said a crowdfunding website has been established “to offer immediate support to persons who suffer from psychological and health conditions and to those workers who provide for their care.
“The physical damage caused by Irma was devastating and immediate, but the emotional harm was just as immediate and its effects will be felt for a long time to come. Trauma, separation from loved ones and depression are lingering conditions that need urgent attention. But Irma delivered a big blow to the mental healthcare infrastructure on St. Maarten. We now need to rebuild, find financial support and resources to help the people and the care workers who care for them.”
He said almost four months after Irma the people of St. Maarten are trying to pick up their lives again. However, reconstruction will take a long time. Many people have lost their jobs and their future is uncertain. Many families are still without their own home and it is particularly within the poorer part of the population that concern and despair are mostly felt.”
The year 2018 promises to be a busy one for Cuvalay and his Foundation. The Foundation promotes awareness and care of people with mental health issues on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. “In addition to the devastating effects of Irma on St. Maarten, mental issues loom wide on our islands. And with focus and dedication from all those involved, we shall start to make a difference for the many who suffer from drug addiction, domestic violence, depression, suicidal tendencies and a host of other related mental health conditions.”
Founded in 2007, The Quill works closely with mental healthcare institutions and various stakeholders in St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten and with associated bodies in the Netherlands.
Last July, Cuvalay organised the first ever mental health symposium in Statia to launch awareness and gather support for a population study on mental health in the Dutch Caribbean. After nearly eight years engaged in the development of psychiatric and addiction care he paused his working career to realise that aim through The Quill.
He said funding for mental healthcare has to be founded on facts and not fiction. “Our population study for which we are working hard to find the necessary funding will provide significant data on the scope and scale of mental health issues on all three islands within the Dutch Caribbean. Nothing comes from nothing and we aim to map and measure the extent of care that is required for treatment and most importantly prevention.”
Working alongside The Quill, research experts from the Trimbos Institute (Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction), will process questionnaires and set up focus groups for children ages 12-18 years. “Trimbos is a non-profit research and knowledge centre with a reputation for scientific excellence. Our survey will not be intrusive and carried out by community professionals and local councillors every step of the way. The approach has been tried and tested through the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study NEMISIS.”
Such a research project will involve considerable cost. Cuvalay’s Foundation is working hard to organise a Windward mental health symposium at the Schiphol Sheraton Hotel on July 5. The goal is to secure awareness, funding and sponsorship. “Following on from our successful symposium on St. Eustatius last July, we decided to hold annual events. This year it will be in Amsterdam. The Sheraton Hotel is sponsoring the event with free conference facilities and we are looking towards pharmaceutical makers and distributors for additional support,” he said.
“We expect a fair amount of Dutch media attention. Mental health has become a pressing issue in a world wired up for change and people whose minds find it difficult to change. Prevention is key and we aim to make that happen everywhere in the Caribbean Netherlands.”
Donations for the Foundation’s appeal can be made through its website at: