World Mental Health Day is observed
yearly on the 10th of October , the aim of commemorating this day is to raise
awareness of Mental Health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of Mental
The theme of this year’s awareness
campaign is “Mental health
care for all: let’s make it a reality”. The theme
this year underlines the pressing need to focus sufficiently on health beyond
the physical in a sustained way, in a world still struggling to fight the
As Minister of Public Health,
Social Development and Labor, I am cognizant of the effects of Mental Health in
all three areas, especially labor. The prevalence of Mental Health issues that
affect individuals’ physical and social well-being makes dealing with
mental health integral to achieving public health goals.
From a labor perspective, poor
mental health not only decreases a person's employability and exacerbates the
already difficult labour-market situation on Sint Maarten, but a number of
studies have demonstrated a cyclical link between financial worries and Mental
Health problems. Lack of sufficient finances and/or job loss can result in the
loss of health insurance, and the loss of health insurance of-course reduces a
person's access to health care, which can result in untreated health conditions
and the inability to receive preventive care. The stress and mental drain
related to this domino effect can affect a person's mental well-being.
In other situations, there are
persons for whom problems at work are often the triggers or root cause of their
mental illness. Bringing about awareness of mental health issues is not enough
to alleviate the issues in this area. However, great progress can be made by
strengthening awareness and the implementation of tools within
organizations/businesses, to help employers and employees deal with
psychological problems at work.
Increasing access to mental health
care and treatment for persons to receive culturally competent care is one of
my top priorities, along with reducing the cultural stigmas and negative
perceptions about mental illness, which often discourages individuals from
getting help. Attitudes about mental health issues within our small community
affects the willingness of persons to seek help. Both religious ideas and
cultural perceptions can shape how people feel about getting mental health
There is comfort to be found in the
fact that I am diligently working on addressing mental health disorders and
improving the community’s well-being by way of a comprehensive approach,
policies and activities that foster mental health, and also improving access to mental health services.
As a community, I like to think
that we are our brother's/sister's keepers. Therefore, I urge each of you to do
your part by being helpful, kind and empathetic towards others. Use your words,
gestures and social media presence as positive tools, rather than a means to
target or attack others. The effects of social media on self image and a
person's will to live is underestimated. Social media platforms have proven to
have a negative impact on a person's mental health , due to cyberbullying,
isolation, Anxiety-depression and inadequacy about their life. Our community
have been plagued by several suicides within the last years, which is a telling
indicator of how disconnected from each other our society has become, that
persons may have felt they had no where to turn, no one to talk to and no other
way out of what they were experiencing. Let us unite for global mental health,
not only today but everyday.
I would like to leave you with some
helpful ways to improve your Mental Health daily;
• Stay positive
•Maintain healthy online habits
• Practice gratitude, which means being thankful for the
good things in your life.
• Take care of your physical health, your physical and
mental health are connected.
• Exercise often, get enough sleep and eat a well-balanced
• Connect with others by creating strong, healthy
• Develop coping skills, which are methods you use to
deal with stressful situations; such as meditation.
• Most importantly it is also important to recognize
when you need to get help. If you don't know where to get treatment, start by
contacting your primary care provider. Talk about it, as therapy can save a
Talking about mental health gives
freedom to seek help, locate mental health services, find people who can relate,
and move toward well-being. Let us continue the conversation about mental
health. Together, we can work to stop the stigma surrounding issues many of us
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more
unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close.