World Mental Health Day

| 10/10/2014

Each year on 10th October, the international community encourages stakeholders to talk about their work on mental health issues. A particular concern worldwide is the need to increase access to mental healthcare. Here in the Cayman Islands, which we so often characterise as paradise, we must understand that we face a similar challenge. Those people whom our community knows to be suffering from mental illness are not outliers, who might have avoided their fate by making different lifestyle choices.

While drug use is indeed a risk factor for mental illness, we must remember that addiction is also an illness, from which persons need considerable support and treatment to recover. It can also be a symptom of mental illness, as persons self-medicate. 

Yet there are many other challenges that we all face in our daily lives, which increase the risk of mental illness. Some less well-known pre-disposing factors include:
• Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or divorce;
• Chronic medical conditions, such as cancer;
• Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or being assaulted;
• Having few healthy relationships; and
• Brain damage as a result of a serious injury, such as a violent blow to the head.

Any these things might impact any of us, or those we love, in a manner that is beyond our control. Were mental illness to result, the best that we could hope for would be prompt access to effective mental healthcare.

This year’s theme focuses on a particular illness— with which our local experts are quite familiar.  In 2010, 110 persons accessing mental health services at the Health Services Authority were found to be “living with schizophrenia”. This represents seven percent of the total figure receiving mental healthcare.

For those who are not aware schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder, characterized by profound disruptions in thinking that affect language, perception, and the sense of self. The 2010 figure was a slight increase over 2006, when 96 patients suffered from schizophrenia.
The World Health Organisation tells us that the disease affects around 26 million people across the world. Despite being treatable, more than half of people with the illness cannot access adequate treatment. Furthermore 90% of people with untreated schizophrenia live in the developing world.

This statistic is especially unfortunate. Although it is a severe mental disorder, which disrupts people’s lives and impedes their functioning, those who suffer from schizophrenia can, with treatment, lead productive lives and be integrated in society.

The Cayman Islands is an extremely small community with limited resources that boasts services on par with the developing world. As such it is paramount that we ensure that we do not become part of the global statistic. 

Government’s duty is to ensure that our citizens and residents who suffer from this and other forms of mental illness have equal access to healthcare and any other essential service they may require. We must also ensure that society employs the same respect for their rights and responsibilities, as it would towards a healthy person. 

For this reason Government launched the Mental Health Commission under the leadership of Dr Marc Lockhart, earlier this year. This group of professionals aims to protect the rights of the persons detained under the Mental Health Law. They will also make recommendations on ways to improve the local mental health system, and engage in advocacy, research and training programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination.

The Commission, Government, serviceproviders, stakeholders and the general public all have a part to play in securing this vision—as those who work in the profession are particularly cognizant.

To this end, the Psychiatric & Behavioural Health Services (PBHS) Unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital has planned a number of activities to raise awareness of mental health concerns.  From panel discussions, to movie screenings, information sessions, a church service and even a tai chi demonstration, PBHS has planned a range of public events to increase awareness of local mental health challenges.

Their goal is to create a society in which regardless of the state of our mental health, we are all assured of access to the best possible care and our continued enjoyment of basic human rights.

This is a worthy vision, that we must all work together to achieve. My Ministry looks forward to continued collaboration with all stakeholders and with the general public to achieve these goals.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The discussion is supposed to be about mental health illness and all you people can comment about is the stupid dump or Ebola????   I'm disgusted.   The health care on this island for mentally ill people is a joke and no wonder if people can't even respond to the point of topic and end up wandering off on a ramble about things that have nothing to do with it.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Bodden forgot to mention depression as a serious mental health concern. While it was omitted it cannot be ignored. Even in the mental health profession it appears that there is no definced policy or process of successfully treating cases of depression, i.e. successful diagnoses and medication regimens. In cases, it seems like the professionals charged with assisting patients suffering from depression take a "hands-off" approach if patients (who may not fully understand their illness) decline or refuse medication. While that is a sensitive matter – one cannot force another to take medications – it would appear that the seriousness and possible results of not taking prescribed meds is not fully explained to patients.

    I'm aware of at least one patient who did not benefit from the professionals fully defining the scope and possible results of failing to be medicated for depression – with tragic results.  

  3. Anonymous says:

    Another minister that out of their depth.  3 more years of this bunch and it will certainly be no point of return for these islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      spending 800K on Ebola tent cant cant help Caymanians in need he is right just change it to Cayman Mental Health Day

  4. Anonymous says:

    Minister of Rubbish, what are you doing about the dump? The smell is driving me mental!

    • Anonymous says:

      Exceptionally poor taste comment, evdiencing the narrow minded bigotry of many towards mental health issues.

      • Anonymous says:

        and I'm one of them going crazy by this no action government.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can imagine the dinner time conversation in your cave.

          • Anonymous says:

            The whole Seven Mile Beach stinks, because of the dump, you moron. You people are so idiotic it's not even funny any more. Mental illnes, you have it!

            • Anonymous says:

              Boy , you can really feel the love around here.

            • Anonymous says:

              Did someone take away your crayons at play time or are you always a jerk?

              • Anonymous says:

                Obviously you cannot handle the truth with your childish retort; and if there is anyone playing with crayons, it's the people in charge of this island.

                Typical CaymanKind, with heads buried in the sand. The dump is a toxic smelly mess, that can be seen from the arriving cruise-ships and stinks all the way to Seven Mile Beach. Now deal with it, and stop playing with people's health.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I think someone who defaults to the term "moron" should stay away from written media.  Or educated people.  Here's a shiny object, go fetch.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    and I think people who bury their heads in the sand, and blatantly avoid pressing issues, such as an 80ft Mountain of Trash, should check their priorities. You can throw me a bone pardna, just keep it away from your disgusting garbage heep.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      Heap, numbskull.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      Your argument is so weak that the best you can do, is hope that someone misspells a word, just so that you can point it out and gloat through your utter uselessness and inadequacy.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      Well, numbskull, in your 11.11 18/10 posting:

                      1.  You failed to start with a capital letter.

                      2.  The comma before "and" is redundant.

                      3.  There is no need to capitalise "Mountain" or "Trash". 

                      4.  It is "heap" not "heep".

                      Averaging two errors per sentence puts you at the bottom end of the class, which would make sense given your shoking attitude towards mental health issues.  I was being nice to you before.  I take it you wrote "pardna" because you wanted to play some ethnic connection card, a common technique amongst those with weak vocabulary and writing styles.

                      The bottom line is you seem to think mental illness is a source of humour.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  But I suspect you are so out of touch and ill-informed that you have no idea how awful people like you really are.

                    • Anonymous says:
                      sorta like your double-spaces after each period, or "full-stop" for you. speaking of bottom end of the class, the "comma before the and" is known as an "Oxford comma", British English dah-ling. 
                      oh, and the smell, of the Mountain of Trash, is causing me to display stress-like symptons as I have to drive across it, twice everyday, to and from work; so not bothering to capitalise is the least of the atrocities being committed here. the message is more important than your English writing lesson. 
                      and no one was making fun of Mental Illness until you came along with your tripe and self-righteous bullshit. rather than take it out on me for speaking the truth, demand from your representatives they do something about the unhealthy, unhygienic, toxic Mountain of Mess, sitting in the backyard of Seven Mile Beach, pardna.
                    • Anonymous says:

                      The Oxford Comma is a ghastly thing and aside from at OUP, it is typically seen only in "American English".  But let us leave the finer points aside until you have mastered the use of capital letters.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      back again with more sanctimonious shite? even though the British may not encourage the Oxford Comma as much these days, like the Americans do; British style guides require it, including the Oxford University Press style manual. yes, that Oxford University. the one that was founded way back in 1586 in the United Kingdom (the same one you tried to downplay with your “OUP”). it is known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford University Press, therefore: British English. where do you think the Americans got their English language from? 

                      anyway, moving on. instead of constantly judging people, and trying to ambush their messages by being a spelling and grammar nazi, put your energy into keeping this island clean. demand action. not long-winded press releases from your elected representatives, for it is their lack of action, and self-service, that is raising the stress-level on this island. causing more and more people to suffer from anxiety disorder, which is a serious mental illness (don't run off to google that last sentence yet, i'm not finished). i'd also like to add that i'm purposely not using capital letters, at the beginning of my sentences, just for you. have a good day.

            • Anonymous says:

              Do you know how to spell "illness" or was typing hard because you drag your knuckles along the ground all day?

              • Anonymous says:

                Dear Spelling Nazi, you should be more concerned with the state of affairs at Mt. Trashmore, it's affect on Seven Mile Beach and our Tourism Product; than someone missing an "s", from one word. 

              • Anonymous says:

                That is the best response you can come up with? A person missed a single "s" from one word?

                boy, no hope for this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Look like I have to eat my words. According to today's press, the Minister is actually doing something, so credit due! 

  5. Anonymous says:


    With reports that a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Duncan in Dallas has been infected, one thing urgently needs to be clear :HSA is not prepared to confront that deadly virus.

    It is long past time to stop relying on a business-as-usual approach to a virus that has killed thousands in West Africa and has such a frigtheningly high mortality rate. There is not margin for error.That means there can be no standard short of optimal in the protective equipment, such as hazmat suits, given to nurses,paramedics and emts who are the first to engage patients with Ebola-like symptomps. All nurses,paramedics and emts must have access to the same state-of-the-art equipment used by Emoru University Hospital personnel when they transported Ebola pantients from Africa, but the HSA is trying to get by on the cheap.

    In addition,the HSA and other front-line providers should immediately conduct hands-on training and drills so that personnel can practice, in teams, such vital safety procedures as the proper way to put on and remove protective equipment. The HSA must also maintain properly equipped isolation rooms to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff and harden their procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens.

    We all count on nuses,paramedics and emts to be there for us when we're at our sickest and most vulnerable, and it's everyone's if healthcare workers are not protected.

    And Ebola is exposing a broader problem: the sober reality of our fragmented, uncoordinated public health care system. We have enormous health-care resources in the Cayman Islands. What we lack is a island-wide, integrated system needed to respond effectively to a severe islands threat such as Ebola.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidelines but has not authority to enforce them. The HSA have wide latitude to pick and choose what protocols they will follow; too often in a corporate medical system, those decisions are based on budget priorities, no what is best for the health and safety of patients,nurses,paramedics and emts. Lawmakers should put few mandates on what Hospitals must do in the face of pandemics or others emergencies, and you Ossie and health officials should have the authority to direct procedures and protocols at Hospitals.

    Its time to listen ours nurses,paramedics and emts. Lets stop Ebola now and be better prepared for next pandemic.


    Thanks CNS

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah but they just sent the speaker of the house to Africa, these people have no idea what they doing.

      • Anonymous says:

        She went on a vanity trip to try to be elected for a meaningless post so she could travel more with no benefit to the Cayman Islands.  She has to settle for the gong for the third best "cough cough" postal service in the world.

  6. Anonymous says:


    Rather than spouting platitudes, what are you doing about requiring local health insurers to provide adequate coverage for mental health issues?

    Just askin'

    • Slowpoke says:

      I could not agree with you more.  As it is, by overall health expenditures a minimal cost, it should be provided for free by public health.