PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — There is a strong correlation between homelessness, poverty and mental illness. For years, government has stated that it would create a country-wide plan of action for the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders.
This is just what we need for when we look around our beautiful island, so many people are walking the streets with hopelessness in their eyes, hoping for hope again. We need to stop the quick fixes and temporary remedies, and examine the role of society in preventing and responding to mental health problems beyond the health system.
To protect people’s mental health, we need a country plan that focuses on prevention in schools, and the lingering social issues that plague our communities leading up to intellectually disabled people.
We see homelessness, poverty and mentally disabled people highlighted right now in our communities. This means that there is a strong correlation between the three. Identifying and addressing homelessness and poverty as issues affecting individuals with intellectual disabilities, warrants careful examination and assessment in order to be included in our country plan.
We need to create affordable homes for families because in actuality, having enough housing correlates with prosperity, and decreased poverty for both individuals and families as well as improved employment, economic expansion, a good and balanced mental health and social stability for the entire country.
Every ministry needs to investigate when we are acting in our population’s best interests.
A strategy can be developed if the Ministers of VROMI and Education meet to discuss the issues of inadequate housing, and the degree of poverty that children experience. If the Labour and Health Minister participate in the talks as well, we will learn that parents’ salaries are insufficient to support their children, and to live a respectable/affordable lifestyle. At that point, a full plan can be implemented.
Because ministries don’t always work with each other, there are always gaps in the system. Since mental health is currently in style, everyone is talking about it. However, we can’t approach it from a single angle, and it is evident that the current approach isn’t working for us. It won’t work to medicate individuals and then release them back into the same setting.
Treatments for mental illnesses have shown a lot of promise and have helped patients experience clinically significant symptom relief, yet they have not significantly changed the course of the disorders. Because, I believe the way to handle this should be a holistic and community approach, we can also get the churches involved, as there are many on our island.
As we learn to deal with mental health issues, faith and science should be complementary rather than antagonistic. The experience of love in relationships and our connection to God and other people leads towards genuine healing, while medications may help to stabilize symptoms.
Assuring the person they are not alone in the midst of personal darkness is one way that family, friends, and a supportive faith community can model God’s unconditional love.
Scripture passages that provide comfort include Isaiah 43:1-4.
I am Gromyko Wilson,
The last candidate on the USP party slate/list.