June 14, 2021

Mental health treatment in A&B placed under microscope

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mental-healthBy Christopher Cameron From Antigua Observer

The mother of burn victim Miss Teen Xplosion Shaveesa Gasper would have likely remained untreated and unstable, even if she had been diagnosed with a mental condition before the attack, Dominican psychiatrist Dr Griffin Benjamin said.

Benjamin, along with the Eastern Caribbean representative for PAHO and WHO Godfrey Xuereb, appeared on the Big Issues on Sunday to discuss the New Year’s Day attack and the implications for mental health treatment in Antigua.

Xuereb said it was a good first step for the mother to have undergone psychiatric screening after the alleged incident, as mental health should be a priority consideration in such cases.

“This is something that is obviously not a normal action of a mother to a child, or any human being.” Xuereb said. “It also brings to the forefront the issue of mental health across the Caribbean, and how we deal with mental health.”

But Benjamin says that a diagnosis prior to the incident would have changed little for the teen’s mother, as preventative mental health treatment in Antigua is too difficult to access for many mentally ill citizens to remain as healthy members of society.

“Even if a doctor, private or otherwise, had seen her,” Benjamin said. “The treatment is too difficult to access in Antigua. In terms of availability, affordability, and access to a quality type of care that people like this woman would need in order to function in society.”

Several residents have expressed confusion about why the teen’s mother has not yet been charged with a crime, as the attack took place almost two weeks ago.

The two mental health experts were asked if the mother, being labelled as mentally ill, should absolve her of criminal liability.

Both Xuereb and Benjamin agreed that such notions misunderstand the distinction of being mentally ill.

“There is a due process, and obviously the due process is within the remit of the justice system, not the remit of the health system.” Xuereb said. “The due process needs to be followed, and I am being informed the due process is being followed.”

Benjamin added that it would be difficult for Caribbean nations like Antigua to maintain facilities for the criminally insane that more developed nations have.

For more on this story go to: http://antiguaobserver.com/mental-health-treatment-in-ab-placed-under-microscope/

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