MHF sees rise in demand for child psychiatric care | THE DAILY HERALD

CAY HILL–The demand for child psychiatric care is larger than Mental Health Foundation (MHF) can handle at present, management of the clinic said in an invited comment on Tuesday. “But MHF does not deny treatment.”

  With its current staffing, MHF cannot handle cases in a timely matter, the clinic explained. “This issue is not only a problem for St. Maarten. Our Kingdom partners face similar issues, as well as other countries in the world.”

  MHF is currently looking into ways and means to reduce the waiting list for child psychiatric care, the clinic’s medical management stated in response to questions posed by The Daily Herald.

  MHF does not have a child psychiatrist. “However, we are in the process of recruiting one,” management said. “Recently we were able to utilise a child psychiatrist from Curaçao for the period of a week. We are now assessing whether this can be a structural solution.”

  Minors (17 years and younger) can receive outpatient care at MHF once a parent or legal caregiver agrees by means of a consent letter, management explained. “Plans are being drafted to include child psychiatric care in the new building of MHF. Plans are that this new building will have additional crisis rooms compared to our current situation. Given the increase in child psychiatric demands, MHF will also have to adjust its formation to provide the specific care for this population group.”

  The increased demand for mental health care has become more pertinent following the COVID-19 pandemic, MHF said. “It is unfortunate that the community is faced with this situation and we are doing our utmost to continue providing optimal care in St. Maarten. Our island of St. Maarten is still recovering from the consequences followed by [Hurricane – Ed.] Irma which is also the cause of increased demand for mental health care.”

  When asked what parents and siblings of children affected by mental health disorders can do, MHF gave the following advice: “If a child is experiencing a psychotic episode and is a threat to themselves and/or environment, parents should contact our crisis number at +1-721-520-5556. If the child is experiencing early symptoms of a psychosis the parent can then seek outpatient care at our clinic. Parents can do so by first visiting their general practitioner for a referral and scheduling an appointment at  +1721 542-1677.”

Source: The Daily Herald