Marchers celebrate World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, 10 October, was observed in the Cayman Islands with a walk through downtown George Town with balloons and a banner calling attention to the fact that mental health is as much a concern in Cayman as in other countries.
Taking part were staff members of the Mental Health Department at George Town Hospital and a recently formed support group comprised of relatives and friends of people with mental health issues.
The walk culminated in Heroes Square with a prayer and brief remarks, including thanks from the caregiver of a mentally ill person who said how much she appreciated the work of the mental health team. The event ended when participants released their balloons and watched them soar up and out in the direction of the sea, their buoyancy reflecting the positive spirits of people who refuse to let a difficult task weigh them down.
Among the walkers were Minister for Health Mark Scotland, Minister for Community Affairs Mike Adam and consultant psychiatrist Dr. Marc Lockhart.
The 2013 theme for the international observance was “Depression: A Global Crisis”. In his message for the occasion, Mr. Scotland said depression accounts for 50 per cent of mental illnesses in Cayman, while approximately 10 per cent of the population experiences some type of mental illness.
In the past, he noted, people were afraid to seek help and were reluctant to admit mental illness in themselves or their families because of stigma and discrimination. “Thankfully, this is beginning to change as more persons become more vocal, advocating for their loved ones and looking for ways to gather support,” Mr. Scotland said.
The Mental Health Department at the hospital includes a short-term in-patient facility as well as an out-patient section. Cayman does not have a long-term facility. Patients requiring such care are sent overseas.