Mental Health Foundation meets with clients and relatives of patients and clients

With ample space to house the large group of 22 persons that reacted to the invitation of the MHF for a meeting, those who came reacted full of enthusiasm regardless of the many problems they have.

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The willingness to commence with the first patient’s council ever on St. Maarten was unanimously agreed on.

The developments of the Foundation since 2006 were briefly explained including the long overdue intentions to invite clients’ relatives and others, to meet and discuss their support needs. Information was given with regards to what the foundation can do in support of the clients’ relatives and families. The Foundation can provide information, location, and guidance to groups and/or individuals who feel that they need this.

The staff members were introduced, including new staff and the internal changes in the organization:

· Shaniëla Jonge, Social Psychiatric Nurse who was managing the Day Care has joined the ambulant care team, which now consists of herself and nurse Shineca Carty.

· Angie Stelk is the new Day Care coordinator.

· Dr. Sasha Ammersingh is also new and the doctor on the team

· Elena Reyes remains in her function as clinic nurse.

· Nurses Elena, Shineca and Shaniëla do the 24 hr on call rotation with the back up of Dr. Ammersingh and the psychiatry practice PMA in Curaçao.

The PMA also visits the clinic every 2 weeks for consultations.

· Aisheline Maduro is the full-time psychologist who does Counseling, Information and Prevention. She has also been very instrumental in upgrading and training staff for their individual jobs.

The support groups comments and needs:

An elderly mother says; "this illness is new to us, we do not understand the behaviors that relate to the illness and how to deal with it adequately".

A father explains, that it is also very difficult at times for family members to accept that there is actually an illness involved. When a patient is on medication they seem to be normal.


The group agrees that;

Community acceptance is also very important, there are persons (neighbors) that tell you to kick your child out of the house, but it is still your child and you just can’t do that.

The situation in the police station is also brought forward, the patients do not belong there because they are sick people, the police officers try but are not equipped to deal with them.

Sending patients away gives temporary relief to families but when they come back they need more professional guidance and a place to live.

Clients need help in finding a job.

The Foundation explains that the employer needs support and the clients’ need individual guidance when starting to work and not enough staff is available to do that. It is prioritized for 2010 but will depend on the availability of funds to do so.

Suggestions from the support group are:

The churches could also help with supporting families and clients, some of the participants will inform their churches to help out and to get involved in supporting the cause of the Mental Health Foundation.

Family members are also willing to go out and raise funds to support the patients of the foundation.

All attendants unanimously acknowledged that organizing themselves to voice their concerns about the availability of treatment options on St. Maarten would be a good idea.

The following persons have committed themselves to set up a Council:

Mr. Blijden

Mrs. Lilian Priest

Mr. and Mrs. Ignasio

Mrs. Barbara Cherubin

Closing remarks:

A mother says that lately she felt like she was in a tunnel with no end to it, she has virtually been everywhere for help. She feels much better now that she has been with persons who have the same experiences she has.

Another couple confirms she has been sent from one place to the other with no solution at all. She was glad to be with persons to talk about her experiences.

The nurses explained the Public Awareness plan for 2010, which could be supported, by the families and clients in order to create a better understanding and the acceptance of people with mental illnesses.

Everyone supported the efforts of the Mental Health Foundation and the meeting was closed with the understanding that the Foundation would:

· Follow-up on providing information and education to relatives, by extending an open invitation for a lecture on March 16th at 7 pm.

The subject of the lecture will be " Schizophrenia".

Speaker: dr. Karin Hermans, child psychiatrist

Location: tba

· Provide additional information on the legal structure and ramifications pertaining to a patient/relatives support group.