GIS - October 22, 2012: A feasibility study for the setting up of mid-way homes which will provide community mental health care service for the effective treatment of patients in the community will soon be carried out by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
This was announced on Saturday 20 October 2012 by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr Lormus Bundhoo, at a Symposium on Depression organised by the Mauritius Psychiatric Association at Octave Wiehe Auditorium, Le Réduit, to mark World Mental Health Day.
Mr Bundhoo stated that the development of community mental health care service is in line with the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for effective mental health policy, adding that the rehabilitation and re-settlement of long stay patients are being considered. There are currently some 450 chronic patients in the old Brown Sequard Hospital. The Minister also affirmed that the Mental Health Act is being amended to be responsive to the evolving needs of the population.
The number of people seeking health services for mental illnesses has decreased in the last years. Figures regarding outpatients at the various psychiatric departments in government hospitals including Brown Sequard Mental Health Care Centre (BSMHCC) stood at 121,523 cases in 2011 compared to 130,065 in 2009. In addition, the number of new cases registered at Brown Sequard and other hospitals decreased from 7,417 in 2009 to 6,427 in 2011.
Commenting the figures, Mr Bundhoo pointed out that 46% of admissions to BSMHCC in 2011 were due to alcohol related problems. ‘There is a close relationship between depression and alcohol abuse and government has already introduced legislative measures namely amendment to the Public Health Act in order to limit the consumption of alcoholic products especially among the youth’, he said. The Minister added that the Ministry is presently finalising an Action Plan on Alcohol abuse.
In line with WHO recommendations, Government has already initiated several steps to integrate mental health care in regional services. The measures include posting of psychiatrists and psychologists in each regional hospital, setting up of a psychiatric unit at Flacq Hospital, psychiatric clinics by Community Physicians in 16 Area Health Centres as well as the opening of a nurse led clinic namely at Pandit Sahadeo Community Health Centre.
As regards training of staff, it is to be noted that community physicians have received training on mental health disease and management while all trainee doctors have a compulsory posting in psychiatric units during their internship. Presently specific training is being given to nurses through WHO programmes. A document based on WHO principles has been prepared as guideline and will soon be distributed to all doctors.