Guyanese fear getting involved in mental health issues

Guyanese don’t seem to be very familiar with the manifestations of social problems, and significant amounts of citizens worry about the implications of getting into other peoples’ business as it relates to mental health issues such as suicide, abuse, and alcoholism. They fear they might get hurt and point to several intermediaries being abused, badgered, killed and so on in this respect. Also they indicate that family members they seek to help could turn against them as has been the case in many situations. These are some of the findings of the latest survey conducted by The Caribbean Voice.
With respect to mental health, people in Berbice in particular say that patients are treated very badly at the National Psychiatric Hospital, often lacking food and medicines. They feel patients are worse off inside that institution than they are on the outside and would get more assistance outside from family members than in the institution. They also point to lack of security, as they feel patients easily escape and roam the streets of New Amsterdam in particular, often becoming a danger to other citizens.
The following were the questions and responses:
Would you be willing to volunteer within your
community to help deal with suicide and abuse?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
58 06 28 08
This compares unfavorably with responses to a similar question in December 2014, when 96% indicated willingness to help with suicide and 66% with abuse. Also, myths and misinformation still holds significant sway, indicating the critical need for concerted, ongoing sensitisation and training.
If you hear someone say he or she wants to kill him/herself
would you immediately call the suicide helpline?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
74 0 22 04
Many respondents continue to not be aware of the suicide helpline.
Should educators and supervisors be provided with special
training to identify and help students who are abused or suicidal?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
78 02 14 06
A significant number of respondents don’t seem to know how to identify potential suicide cases. Many respondents fear their family’s reaction if they suggest that specific members are acting strange or may be suicidal. They feel they may be insulted or told to mind their own business. Similar feelings were expressed with regards to spousal or domestic abuse and alcoholism. Also, there is a general feeling that talking about suicide would encourage people to engage in suicide and/or drive attention to people who die by suicide.
Should government pass legal malpractice legislation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
72 04 18 06
Should government pass medical malpractice legislation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
80 06 10 04
Should government pass legislation that enables
victims of rape and abuse to sue the perpetrators?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
82 00 12 06
Should persons with mental health issues in courts be mandated psychological evaluation?
Yes No Not Sure No Comment
62 08 20 10
Respondents feel that persons in court cases may pretend to be mad so as to avoid sentencing or paying for their crimes.
The survey, conducted in late October and early November, interviewed 820 respondents (336 Indians, 246 Africans, 148 Mixed, 82 Amerindians, 8 others) to yield a demographically representative sample of the adult (18 and over) population. People were polled randomly to make the sample as representative as possible — varied age, class, occupational, residential and religious categories as well as ethnicity and educational levels and geographical diversity.
The results of the poll were analysed at a 95 per cent significance level and a statistical sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points was found. This means that in theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results based on such a sample will differ by no more than 4 percentage points in either direction from what should have been obtained by seeking to interview the whole adult population. Sampling results based on subgroups have a larger potential sampling error.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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