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Removing Stigma Associated With Mental Health

Sandilands celebrates with month of activities

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

All month long, the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre will be hosting a series of activities to bring attention to its programmes that improve the physical and mental health of those who seek the facility’s services.

Sandilands Month is observed during every September, because that was the month, in 1956, when the services now offered at the centre were relocated from the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to their current home in Fox Hill.

There are several events on the agenda to celebrate this special month, the first of which will be a church service at St Anselm’s Church today at 10.30am. The service is not only a service of thanksgiving, but also seeks to bring about spiritual awareness and serve as an orientation and socialisation tool in rehabilitation.

During September, a variety of activities are also planned to educate the public about mental health.

“Sandilands, being a mental health institution, has being riddled by stigma. This has resulted in persons refusing to seek much needed treatment. Sandilands Month is the ideal time to focus on Sandilands, its services and programmes,” said Betsy Duvalier, public relations manager at the centre.

This years’ theme is “Advancing Physical and Mental Health Care through Community Integration”.

“Community integration helps our patients develop personal, social and vocational competencies in order to live as independently as possible in their own homes and communities,” said Ms Duvalier. “The executive management team of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre attempts to build these competencies in our clients, despite the fact that we are set apart from the rest of the community. To ensure that these competencies are properly achieved, integration with community persons is essential.”

The programmes, Ms Duvaliar noted, are designed for the participation of the community. Sandilands also believes clients should be allowed to attend and participate in activities of the community.

“This is all in an attempt to equip them socially and provide the feeling to belong. It is this interaction and opportunity that improve the physical and mental state,” she said.

The following are some of the activities the general can participate in:

• Suicide Prevention Symposium

Celebrated annually on September 10, this year the symposium will provide training for professionals and individuals who may have to play a part in the prevention of suicide. This is in keeping with the theme, “Working together to prevent suicide.” Special breakout groups are being organised to address specific scenarios that may be peculiar to each group. The symposium will be held at 8.30am at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road.

• Suicide Prevention Movie Night

This year, the committee has added a movie night to the list of activities. The movie night is scheduled for September 12 at Galleria Cinemas under the theme “Fanning the flame of hope”. It begins at 6pm. To observe this day, people are encouraged to wear yellow and/or orange which are the colours of a flame.

• ‘Worthy of Praise’ concert

The Worthy of Praise choir is comprised of clients from throughout the hospital. They will host of special concert on September 16 at Believer’s Gospel Chapel, Prince Charles Drive, at 3pm. The choir has contributed to reducing some of the stigma surrounding mental health in the Bahamas and has improved morale of choir members.

• Retirees Luncheon

Twenty-six staff members are retiring from the service this year and will mark this occasion with the special luncheon on September 20 at 12noon. The retirees have dedicated between 19 and 42 years of service to the centre.

• Sandilands Fair

After a years-long break, the Sandilands Fair will return on September 29 at 12noon. The fair provides opportunities for orientation, socialisation and activities around daily living. The patients always look forward to dressing up and playing the games at the fair, said the staff.

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