Party Leader Message
Hi everybody. Today I want to spend a few minutes talking about a national problem we can only fight and win together and that is the issue of mental illness. Recently families have suffered and lost greatly because of this issue and so the time has come for us to address it openly, with the love and compassion that is needed and to show real commitment by dedicating the necessary resources to address this growing concern.
We can start by seriously talking about mental health issues as an illness. Next, we need to learn all we can about this so that we can help those living with mental health challenges. Then, we have to offer support so that everyone involved knows that they are not alone.
I am no expert on this, but from my limited research, I have learnt that as a society we have two things to deal with when addressing the matter of mental illness. First, we have to care for those struggling with a mental illness and second, we have to care for those caring for someone with mental health issues.
The truth is in many of our families there may be someone suffering from some sort of depression, which is a form of mental illness. Young people are among those who especially battle depression and too often it goes unnoticed.
Just think, if we can only recognize someone who is suffering from depression or is having some other mental health issue, then we can seek help for them and put them on a path to happy, healthy, productive lives. But for this to happen we have to think about mental health differently. We have to stop being ashamed of it. And we have to end the stigma against mental health patients. We have to get it out in the open so we can get the answers we need to help those we love deal with the problem, and we all have to work together.
See, not everyone who suffers from mental illnesses is violent. In fact, most violent people have no mental health issues. It is also a fact that people with mental issues are most of the time victims of violence. But, we also know that people with mental health problems sometimes commit suicide or abuse drugs. And, as we have seen recently, there are some cases where people get violent, especially when a condition goes untreated and this is when it can lead to severe tragedy.
We can do something about this by making treatment available and effective. Of course, we will need government as a partner, working through the Ministry of Health, to take the lead in this process. Also, as we bring more people into the open about mental illness, we can come together in a way that may see the formation of support groups that can advocate for change in attitudes about mental illness. We can start to build and sponsor volunteer organizations with access to skills to help schools and community NGO’s recognize the signs of depression and other mental illnesses. Remember that the level of care we offer to our disadvantaged members of society is an indicator of how good we are as a society.
I know we can’t undo the recent tragedies caused by people who have suffered or are suffering with mental illness, but we can come together to help stop future tragedies. I am ready to work towards the solution because we all need to do our part in building a Belize that works for everyone. Thanks, God bless, and have a safe week.