Persons suffering from a mental health illness are being given the opportunity to lead independent lives through employment.
Mental Health Counselor at the Safe Haven Transitional Centre, Nevillie George told BVI News recently that persons living with a mental illness are usually subject to stigmas, abuse, and are even treated less than human.
However, she said some of the struggles that existed for persons diagnosed with a mental health illness are slowly dissipating in the BVI.
“We have been having a challenge for employers to hire them, but thankfully we have had some success. Just this year we had two of our clients employed and last year we had another two employed. So the centre is bridging gaps within the community with the awareness. So, slowly we are breaking down those barriers.”
“Mental health is very prevalent in the BVI. However, it may not be known because it is something that is very private. There are persons being diagnosed with mental illness and they suffer in silence,” she said.
She said while there are mentally ill persons who will never be independent, there are those who have the capacity to lead normal lives. She said the centre will continue to lobby for patients who have that capacity to function independently.
George’s remarks come ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month, which kicks off in May. Her statements also follow an awareness and fundraising initiative on Friday.
Those initiatives took place outside One Mart Supermarket in Purcell and at Bobby’s Market Place in Road Town.
“They (a team from Safe Haven) were telling the public of the prevalence of mental health in our community and we decided to take it a little further and sell some baked goods and water in order to generate some funds for the centre,” George said.
The funds generated will be used to purchase toiletries for the mental health facility. The funds will also be used to fund outings and other costs associated with patient care.
A number of families have been accused of abandoning their relatives who are patients at the state-owned facility, which currently has 15 in-house patients.
A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood.
Research shows that one in five adults experience a mental health condition yearly.
In addition, half of the mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75 percent of mental health conditions develop by age 24.
Studies show that there are multiple contributing factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle.
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