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Mental health carries $35m bill

Anesta Henry

Mental health carries $35m bill

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Barbados spends $35 million a year on mental health services in public and private institutions and facilities, Minister of Health Donville Inniss said yesterday.
Inniss was speaking at the opening of a workshop for public health nurses at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) at Dayrells Road, Christ Church.
Noting that there was much more to do in respect of mental health reform in Barbados, the minister advised that it costs taxpayers approximately $165 per day to maintain a patient at the Psychiatric Hospital.
He said it would cost less than $25 per person per day to manage an individual in the community via community based programmes.
“When one further considers that a timely community based intervention allows the individual to continue to work and be productive and to remain with his family, then it is a no-brainer that we have to be more community based in respect of delivery of mental health services.”
Inniss said,“There will always be those that are so affected by mental health illnesses that for their benefit and the benefit of those in their homes and communities we would have to institutionalize and clinically treat them.
“However, like with CNCDs [Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases], our task should be to avoid people becoming ill and to manage their illness for as long as possible within their community,” he said.
The minister said mental health reform was certainly an area that was being addressed as well.
“When we talk about health care financing in Barbados,” he said, “ the debate has centred around the QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hospital], Barbados Drug Service and to some extent elderly care services. But mental health programmes do cost us a pretty penny.”