WHO: Mental healthcare for all: let’s make it a reality

Dear Editor,

  “Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental health.”

  On October 10, 2006, the Mental Health Foundation officially opened a clinic on the L.B. Scot Road. Prior to that date patients were referred to Curaçao for care.

  The growing population and changing demographics on St. Maarten provided for evidence of the urgent need for this care locally.

  A nurse Elena Reyes and Dr. Montoya who would visit biweekly enthusiastically set out to start the task of offering care. Nurse Elena would do intakes and made appointments in preparation of the psychiatrists’ visits, she also did home visits and assisted the police when necessary.

  At the end of 2007 MHF had 70 patients and recruitment started for a permanent psychiatrist, administrator and nurses. In 2017 the foundation was also acknowledged by AVBZ [Social and Health Insurances – Ed.] and could start a Day Treatment Facility and Ambulant care.

  In 2010 a building was bought and renovated by 2011; patients could be admitted and no longer needed to be sent to Curaçao for admission.

  Today the foundation has 7 care products, 900 patients and 50 staff members.

  The foundation came a long way and it was not an easy road but determination, endurance and above all a “Care Vison” is what quidded the foundation to where it is today.

  Providing the best possible care to the St. Maarten population means constant adaptation to the needs of the people. The awareness that much still needs to happen to provide for the needs of the patients has been ongoing.

  The result is that today the foundation has commenced with the NRPB [National Recovery Program Bureau] and the World Bank to improve the care the working group has commenced with; improving the capacity of the foundation for the provisioning of quality mental health care, expanding building, staffing and continuous education.

  The foundation would like to thank all who support the efforts and sincerely hopes to continue to serve by enhancing the alliances with our Government, SZV [Social and Health Insurances] and private insurances and all other health care facilities and professionals.

Mental Health Foundation