Mental health is our greatest wealth; kindness and compassion go a long way

Mental health is our greatest wealth; kindness and compassion go a long way

Belizean society is dealing with a grim reality: many of our young people are ending their lives. And so, as Belize and the rest of the globe mark World Mental Health Day on Monday, we all are being asked to do our part to end the vicious cycle of suicide. Whether it’s offering a ride to a professional or a listening ear, the Ministry of Health is urging everyone to help. Dale McDougall reports. 

Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coord., MOHW: “Mental health is part of our overall health. Often times when we speak about health we mostly focus on our physical health you know the physical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and so forth but mental health is definitely part of the overall health and if we do not take care of our mental health then definitely we as well cannot take care of our physical health.” 

Dale McDougall, Love News: That’s a critical component of integral health care. In other words, the rest of your body can’t function well if your mind isn’t. The Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Coordinator, Nurse Iveth Quintanilla explained that they’ve noticed the number of suicides this year alone. In many of the cases, individuals feel depressed, despondent and hopeless. Last year’s figures show that mostly men have ended their own lives for one reason or another.  

Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coord., MOHW: “For 2021 the Ministry of Health has a record of 31 completed suicides. 27 of those were males and four were females. The age range it ranges from the year 15 to 34 those are the most common persons dying by suicide. When it comes to ethnicity we see it highest within the Kriol and the Mestizos and as you rightly said the methods that are used are by hanging or utilizing pesticides through poisoning.” 

Dale McDougall, Love News: A recent case in the Belize District has a family distraught and left with many questions. We asked Quintanilla how we can help teens, who often feel the pressures of the world on their shoulders.  

Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coord., MOHW: Some things that might not be that obvious especially when it comes to teenagers because usually they are moody and you will notice that they might be angry, they may be aggressive but this might be masking a depression and normally we would tend to confuse that behavior with the normal behavior of a teenager. So we should always be vigilant when it comes to these symptoms that our teenagers might display. You might also notice a change in sleeping patterns either they start to sleep too much or too little.” 

Dale McDougall, Love News: And Quintanilla stressed vigilance – and check in on your loved one – include those who are perceived as strong. After all, the strong need help too.   

Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coord., MOHW: “We can look for signs. If we hear that somebody is talking or joking about death or wanting to die or they express feelings of hopelessness, of depression of anxiety or you notice that they are having difficulties with sleep or there are changes in appetite, the person isolates themselves or withdraws you know we look for these signs.” 

Dale McDougall, Love News: The struggles of life often weigh heavy but Quintanilla made the call to those listening to this report to help themselves and each other and use the services available to help. 

Iveth Quintanilla, Mental Health Coord., MOHW: “We have services throughout the country. The mental health nurses are based at the clinics and we have psychiatrists as well and we have a psychologist in Belize City. So these services are for free you can access them, you can set your appointments and if there is a need for any medication the medications will be provided for free as well.” 

Dale McDougall, Love News: World Mental Health Day is marked on October 10 and Quintanilla urged caring and compassion and create spaces free of judgment and fear. After all, a little bit of kindness goes a very long way. Dale McDougall, Love News.  

For assistance, call the 24-hour hotline at 0-800-MOH-CARE, that’s 0-800-664-2273. Appointments and services are free of charge.

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