Ministry launches stress programme

Residents of Bodden Town, Savannah and Breakers were invited to a special community event and fish fry to promote emotional wellness following Hurricane Ivan.

Unfortunately, only a handful of residents turned up at the Jewel of Cayman Lodge in Newlands Monday evening.

The programme, designed to give residents the opportunity to learn more about stress issues and meet visiting guests from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Healing in Toronto, Canada, was launched by the Ministry of Health Services, Agriculture, Aviation and Works.

‘During the month of March, through a collaborative effort, agencies will conduct awareness and educational sessions on personal wellbeing,’ said Health Minister Gilbert McLean.

‘As part of the Ministry’s efforts to promote emotional wellness, a number of events and services will be offered to persons who engage in extraordinary public service work following Hurricane Ivan.’

‘On Grand Cayman during the early stages of the recovery process, members of the Legislative Assembly, pastors, social workers, health care personnel including mental health workers and counsellors, were among those, along with the Disaster Assistance centres, who provided on-going support.

‘It was decided that in the long term these services should be complemented with a programme that allows persons within a community to offer support among themselves.

‘With this in mind,’ Mr. McLean said ‘Neighbours Helping Neighbours was formed.’

The programme developed under the guidance of retired Clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Dunbar, is designed to provide emotional and social support to persons within the community.

At the event the Ministry introduced visiting specialists Akwatu Khenti Director of International Health Programs, Dr. Barbara Dorian staff psychiatrist in the Mood and Anxiety Program, Michael AbdurRashid Taylor Manager of Spiritual and Religious Care Services, Dr. Branka Agic and Graham Vardy Community Health and Education Specialists from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

For one week this group will be visiting schools, government departments, churches and civic groups to train and educate them about the effects of stress.

They will also be collecting data to take back to Toronto to better assess what kind of service is needed.

‘At a time when so many people need the support, it was very disappointing to see the poor turn-out,’ said Education Minister Roy Bodden. ‘It is now that we are going to see some of the stress manifest itself during the recovery process. Not only did us as adults go through the trauma of Hurricane Ivan but also our children. It is time we need these services.’

MLA Anthony Eden agreed with Mr. Bodden by saying, ‘We have seen the results of the trauma, especially in the older people.

Far too many of our senior citizens were passing on. This is a good time for representatives to spread the word that we are open to talk and there is an opportunity for them to talk to help alleviate some of their mental suffering and anguish’

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