Mauritius: Activities in the Context of World Mental Health Day 2021 Launched At Mahebourg Hospital

press release

An official ceremony, with the launching of activities and pamphlets to mark World Mental Health Day 2021 under the theme Mental Health in an Unequal World was held, today, at Mahebourg Hospital.

The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal, the Private Parliamentary Secretary, Mrs T. Jutton, the Member of Parliament, Mr R. Doolub, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Representative in Mauritius, Dr L. Musango, and other personalities, including the health personnel of the Mahebourg Hospital, were also present.

In his statement, Dr Jagutpal said that mental health has always been associated to stigma and globally 450 million people suffer from mental health issues. Each year, he pointed out, more than 700 000 people suffer from a mental health ailment including suicide. For 2020, in Mauritius, the mental health services have consulted more than 93 000 patients and more than 3200 people have been admitted at the Brown Sequard Mental Hospital, he indicated. Besides, more than 224 patients under the age of 18 have also been admitted as children too suffer from mental health problems, he stated.

In addition, the Minister highlighted that the mental health services in Mauritius have been strengthened and employ 12 psychologists and 24 psychiatrists. Government has likewise made provision in Budget 2021/22 for the recruitment of psychologists to be posted in the different Ministries, he remarked.

The Health Minister recalled that World Mental Health Day is celebrated on 10 October and this year it is being marked at the Mahebourg Hospital as this institution houses two rehabilitation units. The parent Ministry, he emphasised, has decentralised psychiatric services across all Hospitals and is gradually doing so in medi-clinics as it is crucial to reach a greater number of people on the island and offer the necessary healthcare. In that regard, training of the health personnel is essential, he added.

Speaking about the COVID-19, the Minister highlighted that the pandemic has had not only a medical impact but has also had an impact on people's mental health. The Ministry, he said, is aiming to find solutions on the short-term to treat those people who have certain mental disorders and has already introduced a measure for early detection of cases so as to avoid the repercussions of the impact the COVID-19 in the years to come.

As regards the COVID-19 positive case detected in Rodrigues, Dr Jagutpal reassured that the patient is asymptomatic and is in quarantine. Rodrigues, he recalled, already has a preparedness plan, elaborated by the Ministry jointly with the authorities in Rodrigues, when cases are identified and which details out where patients should go for treatment, isolation and quarantine.

Moreover, the Minister underscored that 75% of cases detected globally are related to the Delta variant and affirmed that Mauritius is well geared up with the required preparedness plan to counter that variant.

For their part, both Mrs Jutton and Mr Doolub emphasised the need to eradicate stigmatisation and stereotypes associated with mental health issues. They moreover underscored the importance of offering preventive care services and sensitisation on mental health.

As for Dr Musango, he spoke about the WHO's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 with the endorsement recently by the World Health Assembly of updates to the action plan. This Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 sets out clear actions for stakeholders to promote mental health and well-being for all, to prevent mental health conditions for those at risk and to achieve universal coverage for mental health services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people's mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. And services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders have been significantly disrupted.

Pamphlets launched on that occasion cover the following mental health issues: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, suicide prevention and bipolar disorder. Following the ceremony, the Minister accompanied by other personalities effected a guided visit to the alcoholic ward on the Hospital's premises.

Close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.

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