‘We have a challenge with mental illness in The Bahamas’
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that he believes The Bahamas “trivializes” the challenges of mental health and noted the issue has to be taken more seriously.
His comments came after a teenage boy was found dead in his home on Faith Avenue. Police said the teen was found hanging from a rod in a closet.
Sands said that while it is unclear whether the suicide rate is trending upward in the country, steps must be taken to better handle mental illness.
“I think we trivialize the challenges of mental health,” he said outside Cabinet.
“It is very real. Depression is very real, and suicide is increasing around the world, including The Bahamas perhaps.
“I say it that way because when we look at our numbers, our numbers have been low year after year after year. So to determine whether or not the number of suicides that we have had in the last six months is statistically significantly different than the norm requires a statistical review.”
He added, “But make no bones about it, we have a challenge with mental illness in The Bahamas. We tend to dismiss it.
“We tend to shame or blame the victims of mental illness. We still believe that mental illness, and I’m speaking generally now, is a sign of weakness or that it’s a sign that you’re not connected to Jesus or that you are just not strong enough.
“If people were to break a leg, if people were to get cancer, if people were to get high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s tremendous outpouring of support and concern, but if you suffer from a major mental illness, then oftentimes you are greeted with scorn, ridicule, contempt and embarrassment.
“Many people are ashamed even to go to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.”
He added, “So I think that this is one of the very important conversations that we should have as a people, to not be dismissive, to recognize that there are people around us that are suffering.”