Recently appointed director of the department of mental health and substance dependence, Dr Alicia Malcolm has outlined new plans and objectives for the department including a renewed focus on efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination.
Malcolm noted that the department would be doubling its efforts to educate and make the TCI more aware of the issues relating to stigma discrimination in the lives of people living with mental health conditions.
She said: “Looking at the overall mental health situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, one of my greatest concerns pertains to the stigma that plagues the lives of people with mental health conditions. Stigma is a reality for many people and is one of the biggest barriers for persons wishing to seek help.”
Malcolm stated that she was cognisant of the need to strengthen the department’s substance abuse intervention and prevention services, particularly among youth of the TCI. She envisions a school-based program that would provide on-going support for teens at-risk for substance abuse and ultimately lead to reduced rates of alcohol and other drugs.
Another task high on the department’s agenda, she said, was the undertaking of a national study on the prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders within the country. According to Malcolm, this information will form the basis of the next mental health and substance abuse strategic plan and serve as a guide for program planning.
Other plans include the further development and strengthening its relationship with the private sector, as well as various international and regional bodies, as it will take a united effort to improve the lives of persons struggling with mental health and substance use disorders in the TCI.
For more information on the DMHSD call: 649-946-2801 Ext 50504 in Grand Turk or Providenciales 82500.