In Guyana, the spectrum of mental health has broadened over the years with a microscope being placed on not only the negative effects associated, but also the factors which lead to several disorders.
Guyana lacks a Mental Health policy, even though there is currently a plan of action which expires next year. The enactment of that plan initiated in 2016 by the then Minister of Health Dr. George Norton, who later became the Minister of Social Cohesion.
The plan of action was then adopted by the then Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence. Lawrence however hinted several times about a policy, one which could have decriminalized suicide in Guyana.The current administration has promised to do so within the next several years.
Clinical Physiotherapist, Shane Tull expressed the view that Guyana is in dire need of Mental Health Policy, Tull, who has over 25 years of experience and has pent the last four years working on Mental Health issues in Guyana through CDC/USAID, is of the opinion that Physiotherapy could help the local society.
“Mental Health continues to be tabloid which is not only synonymous to Guyana but all over in and among minority groups… but at this point, people are coming aware.” Tull said.
He believes there is a need for a public policy which he said should address the issue of suicide, domestic violence, and poverty, all of which help to impact mental health issues.
A visited Guyana some 25 years Tull recounted that a billboard, erected opposite Base Camp Ayanganna, which said “WE ARE THE ARMY WE CAN SAVE YOU FROM WAR BUT WE CAN’T FROM HIV”, had been one of the most powerful declarations around public policy. He believes that similar campaign is needed to address suicide, and domestic violence.
Tull believes that the Guyanese culture is becoming more aware of mental health, and with a lot of workshops being done on suicide, Guyana still has one of the highest suicide rates.