Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 05, 2016 (SKNIS): Janelle Lewis-Tafari, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services, has hailed the opening of the Mental Health Day Treatment Centre on Monday, December 05 as timely and appropriate, as this period coincides with important social issues in December.

Beginning November 25 and ending December 10, a number of days have been set aside to raise awareness for various social issues. These days include December 03, International Day for Persons with Disabilities, and December 10, Human Rights Day,” said Mrs. Lewis-Tafari. “If ever there was a group of persons subjected to discrimination, stigmatization and marginalization, it is persons with mental illness. Statistics tell us that these persons have higher rates of disability, mortality, joblessness, homelessness, and if that is not bad enough, they are often victims of abuse – both physical and sexual.”

The permanent secretary reflected on the World Health Organization Mental Health Plan 2013-2022, which calls for comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and care services in community-based settings.

“This facility that we are opening today represents our government’s commitment towards meeting this goal,” she said. “Persons with mental illnesses will now have improved case management review and follow-up and increased access to and support in accessing services and training which will allow them to live, work and participate in the community to the full extent of their capabilities.

She used the occasion on behalf of the ministry and the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) to commend the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Association for recognizing the need for such an important facility.

Mrs. Lewis-Tafari offered the incoming staff words of encouragement and urged them to work in the best interest of the patients.

“We expect that the staff who will be placed at the Centre will embrace multi-sectoral approach, reaching out to other agencies including ours for ongoing collaboration and support,” she said. “I implore the staff who will be employed here to remember that the dignity of your clients must always take priority and in working alongside them, make it a standard practice to listen and respond to their needs as this is how you can best help them achieve their aspirations and goals.”

The Mental Health Day Treatment Centre is located at Lime Kiln Commercial Development. The newly opened Centre is a joint collaboration between the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through the BNTF.