Word Bank approves US$8M grant to strengthen essential mental health services in Sint Maarten

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WASHINGTON / PHILIPSBURG – The World Bank has approved a US$8 million grant that will exclusively focus on improving mental health services in Sint Maarten. 

The Improving Mental Health Services Project is the twelfth project to be approved as part of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund Program. First proposed in 2021, the team led by World Bank experts made great strides over the last year to strategically design a project that brings sustainable, transformative benefits for the Sint Maarten population. The Grant Agreement between the World Bank and the implementing partner, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB), was signed on August 4, 2023. 

“The devastation left behind by natural disasters goes beyond the physical. This project acknowledges and aims to address the profound implications Hurricane Irma had – and is still having – on the emotional well-being of the people of Sint Maarten,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean and Sint Maarten Trust Fund Steering Committee chair. 

While other World Bank projects have addressed mental health as part of an overall public health strategy, the Improving Mental Health Services Project is unique in that its sole focus is developing the country’s capacity to effectively deal with mental health and psychosocial issues. The project seeks to attain this through strengthening of the national mental health system via enhanced service delivery, governance, and an improved mental health financing system. The project will also construct a new facility for mental health care which can treat and accommodate more patients in a safe, patient-friendly environment.

Administered by the World Bank and implemented by Bureau, the project will work closely with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). 

“This initiative acknowledges the emotional impact of Hurricane Irma on our people and prioritizes mental health with the aim of building a stronger and more resilient society. It focuses on strengthening our national mental health system, updating the financing system, and constructing a new mental health care facility,” said Prime Minster of Sint Maarten, Silveria Jacobs. “By addressing mental health and psychosocial issues, we align with Sustainable Development Goal 3, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all. This transformative project reflects our commitment to leaving no one behind on the path to progress, fostering a healthier and happier Sint Maarten for generations to come.”