Minister of Human Development says GOB is serious about tackling homelessness
The Government is working to address the needs of mentally challenged persons in Belize, according to Minister of Human Development Dolores Balderamos Garcia. Recently, the Mental Health Association called on GOB to do more to assist mentally challenged persons who may be a danger to themselves or others. The demand came after 48-year-old Francis Ramos Jr. was shot and killed in downtown Belize City by a police officer. Ramos was reportedly having a mental episode when he died in a standoff with the police. According to Balderamos-Garcia, the Ministries of Human Development and Health, along with the police department, first have to work together to tackle the issue of homelessness in Belize.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples Affairs: “In a recent study we close to 75% of the homeless people who have some kind of mental issue so there is mental illness and whereas the policy of the Ministry of Health is not to institutionalize mentally ill people we have to work together because there aren’t enough shelters and safe places for mentally ill people when they’re maybe in an acute stage. So shortly we’ll be putting a paper to Cabinet for the cooperation of both the Ministry of Health and Human Development and the police when we need them and we will be giving more special attention. If we have to put on one or two more social workers and if we have to put on one or two more psychiatric nurse practitioners we will certainly do so because we must take the issue seriously. I’m very sad that we had a loss of life by the big bridge because of a mentally ill person and there’s nothing against the police, the police are trying their best but I would like to say that perhaps there is a need for more training as to maybe how to disarm a dangerous person who has a weapon without having to go to the level of killing them. So I’m very sorry about that but I can tell you that government is taking the issues of mental illness and homelessness very seriously.”