Crisis Intervention At MHF

The October month is World Mental Health Month and the St. Maarten Mental Health Foundation continues to strive to improve the quality care for the population.


In July this year Dr. Gandotra, psychiatrist of the foundation published an article about crisis intervention and in that article he emphasized:

"No one can deny that life brings with it such situations when an individual experiences a sudden loss of his or her ability to use effective problem solving and coping skills leading to emotional, mental, physical and behavioral distress."

It is exactly one year ago, that persons in stressful situations as mentioned in the quote from Dr. Gandotra were treated on the road, in a police cell or if possible at home. The family was confronted with their loved ones in an overcrowded very noisy police cell. While their relative was not a criminal and desperately needed a stimulus free environment.

After serious accidents happened in the police cells because it was inadequate and unsafe, patients were moved to the Prison. The prison has one sick room, but remains a criminal environment. For further treatment patients were flown to Curaçao, if the family could not afford to fly to Curaçao patients remained there for months sometimes years without a relative.

At the Mental Health Foundation, specialized care is available 24 hours. From January to August 2012 42 patients were admitted to the crisis cell. Patients admitted in a crisis are monitored on 3 locations in the building, the crisis room has two doors for the safety of the patient and the staff, when entering and exiting the room. A large window provides an outside view and the patients can view the clock in the hallway. The crisis room is air-conditioned and located stimulus free, away from the road and the activities inside the building. The facility is constructed in accordance with international standards.

Treating patients locally enables involvement of the family, from the beginning of the treatment, it provides continuity of care from admissions until the patient no longer needs to be admitted. Patients remain in the crisis room as short as possible, mostly 3 days and are then admitted to the ward and gradually take part in the daily activities. For some there is the possibility of guided living and others can return home.

Thanks to the community at large the foundation continues to do its utmost to provide for quality treatments.