Guyana moves to address Mental Health more vigorously to secure the health of the population.

18 Jul 2022
Mental Health Collaborative meeting

The Noncommunicable diseases and Mental Health (NMH) Unit collaborated with the Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Health, Guyana, for the conduct of a special meeting to discuss the current status of mental health activities in the country, review the progress of activities and interventions that have been implemented to improve mental well-being and address mental neurological and substance use disorders, examine the main findings of the evaluation of the National Mental Health Strategy 2015-2020, identify mental health priorities to be addressed in the new national mental health agenda and identify areas for PAHO's ongoing technical cooperation  with the Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders.
Participating in the meeting, which was held on 5 July 2022 at the Marriott hotel, Georgetown were Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health, Dr. Luis Codina, PWR, Guyana CO, Claudina Cayetano, Regional Advisor Mental Health, PAHO and members of the local team.

Prior to 2015, Guyana continued to face many challenges, and therefore the country developed the National Mental Health Plan 2015–2020 to address urgent mental health needs.  In 2016, with PAHO's technical cooperation, the country developed a roadmap for the introduction of community-based mental health services in Guyana.  
The recent evaluation of the National Mental Health Plan revealed that the country was successful in establishing a governance structure for mental health at the national level,  improve health promotion, increase health awareness in community and workplace settings, build human resource to improve the response capacity of mental health services and provide comprehensive, quality care in community-based settings through collaboration with government ministries, partnerships among government, civil society organizations (CSOs), and health-supporting religious organizations particularly during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also a gradual reduction in the annual death rates per 100,000 population for suicide.

Some of the success factors included the varied partnerships that were established to address preventive, treatment, and psychosocial aspects of mental health; improved inter-ministry collaboration in promoting mental well-being and self-care; high-level efforts to address mental health issues and related risk factors such as violence in vulnerable population;  training and capacity building of human resources for health across several disciplines and levels of the health system; and an emerging culture of research, exemplified by collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the University of Guyana, and other international academic institutions.

Minister Anthony

The Minister of Health signalled the country's intention to develop a new comprehensive 5-10 year mental health plan that will provide a comprehensive framework to address mental, neurological and substance use disorders  and self-harm; and accelerate the movement towards the provision of comprehensive mental health services at the community level. The country will also prioritize the tabling and passage of comprehensive mental health legislation.

The PAHO Guyana country office pledged its support for the provision of ongoing technical cooperation for improved mental health outcomes in the country and the overall achievement of  the goal of reducing by one third premature mortality from Non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promotion of mental health and well-being by 2030.