“Depression: A Global Crisis”
Belize City, October 2012 - Belize’s celebration of the 20th Anniversary of World Mental Health Day took place at BTL Park, Belize City on Wednesday, 10 October starting at 10:30 a.m. with an official ceremony with a balloon liftoff and distribution of lunch and gifts. World Mental Health Day is celebrated around the world to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is “Depression: A Global Crisis”.
Opening ceremonies included remarks from Dr. Claudina Cayetano, Director of the Mental Health Program, Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, Representative from PAHO/WHO Belize, and Mrs. Kathy Esquivel, Secretary of the Mental Health Association. The keynote address was given by Dr. Marjorie Parks, Director of Health Services who represented the Minister of Health. The ceremony featured a song from Jenny Lovell from the Mental Health Association. Remarks focused on the need to end stigma and discrimination around mental health and for increased services for treatment. It was also mentioned that Belize has made great progress in regards to the programme for Primary Health Care Providers which provides mental health services to the community. This programme is a model to other countries in the region. Dr. Parks also mentioned that depression can affect anyone and there is no health without mental health.
After the speeches, students from St. John’s College handed out balloons for everyone to release into the air which symbolizes hopes and dreams. San Cas then gave out food and gifts.
Various country wide activities started on Sunday, 7 October which included church services in Belize City and Belmopan. On Monday, the 8th of October the Ministry of Health held a depression workshop. Walks for Mental Health also occurred country wide as well Family Day in San Ignacio and diabetic screening in Corozal.
Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.
In Belize, the principal conditions leading to mental health consultations are clinical depression, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and stress-related disorders. In 2005, 12, 318 patients were seen at various psychiatric units throughout the country. The Mental Health Association will open a resource clinic this year with support from PAHO/WHO to provide hot meals and clothes to those in need.
The Pan American Health Organization, which is the Regional Office in the Americas of the World Health Organization, was founded in 1902, and works with all countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. The PAHO/WHO Country Office in Belize was established in the 1950s.