Some 100 residents recently participated in a mental health workshop at the Roadside Baptist Church Skills Training Centre, Number 68 Village, Corentyne, Berbice last Friday.
The seminar, which was the second of two, was led by Dr Latchman Narain, a mental health professional and volunteer from Canada.
The audience included social workers, religious and community leaders, health workers, family members of individuals who had committed suicide, and police officers.
Many locally-based individuals and village leaders expressed an interest in being trained as professional counsellors so that they can set up centres across the region.
On Monday, another mental health workshop was held, at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) building in Main Street, Georgetown.
This event targeted social workers, representatives of non-profit organisations and religious leaders. Dr Narain also delivered a very informative presentation on mental health issues. Both discussions were very lively and interactive.
Dr Narain holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree in Bio-Chemistry and Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Counselling Psychology. He also has a Diploma in Cross Cultural Counselling (St John’s University, New York City).
He is a registered member of the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrics and Psychotherapists (OACCPP) and an accredited Parent Group Facilitator (Positive Parenting Programme, University of Queensland, Australia).
Dr Narain has presented many seminars before, has facilitated many group discussions and counselled at-risk youth. Currently, he runs the Anger Management Centre of Toronto.
Managing Director of the Guyana Foundation, Anthony Autar, explained that although mental health is a phase two programme for the foundation, it was brought forward for a number of reasons.
According to him “as we travelled around the country to conduct our 2013 programmes, we heard so many persons voicing frustration and concern about the senseless loss of human lives. Then, 2014 began with so many reported cases of suicide that we could not sit back and do nothing and wait – watching the people around us sink into hopelessness and despair. We realised that the needs were more urgent than we thought and that we do not have the luxury of time on our side. Every suicide is an irreparable loss – a tragedy for our country. We therefore had no choice but to launch our mental health programme in January of this year.”
He further explained that the foundation “recognises that there is no quick, easy fix to the mental health crisis in Guyana, but knows that it is a process that will take time. Our hope is that by raising awareness, through the social media and workshops, we can spark conversations about the issues and needs in this area and hope that other NGOs can be empowered to collectively pool their skills and resources to work together in this area. We have expressed our willingness to collaborate with the Ministry of Health in this area and remain open to doing so.”
The Guyana Foundation does not offer any counselling or treatment, but has created a database of local professionals in the field in order to connect persons in need with the resources available in communities.
Members of the public who would like to support the work of the foundation can make a donation by calling 225-4414, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.