The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a heavy toll on society, as seen in mounting cases of mental health issues and other physical ailments.
In order to raise awareness and better enable society to provide the prerequisite support, the Community Services Unit of the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment held a capacity building exercise at the Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) in Belle-Vue, Vieux Fort on Thursday, October 27, 2022 to sensitize Social Transformation Officers on Cancer and Mental Health issues.
The sensitization programme, in observance of World Mental Health Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed on October 10 and October 1 – 31 annually, sought to impart knowledge and equip Social Transformation Officers (STOs) with the relevant tools to strengthen community group support systems, create a sense of belonging and reduce any stigma around the two illnesses.
Officer in charge of the Community Services Unit Kendall Elva emphasized the importance of being knowledgeable about the clinical aspect of both Cancer and Mental Health. According to Mr. Elva, “with the issue of Breast Cancer people need to diagnose very early as research shows that early detection increases the survival rate. As STO’s we need to understand the various aspects of Mental Health as well as Breast Cancer to better implement programmes to support vulnerable families in need of assistance.”
Social Transformation Officer (STO) for Soufriere and Choiseul and Programme Coordinator Shema Glasgow says, “Building a support network is critical to addressing issues of mental health and cancer care within communities. This will help create awareness and mobilize efforts in support of managing such illnesses.”
According to Glasgow, “There has been an influx of mental health reported cases among young men in my region. As such, it is crucial for Social Transformation Officers, organizations, family members and Ministry staff to understand the impact that mental health has on daily life and to plan appropriately for dealing with it.”
Workshop participant and Social Transformation Officer for Castries East and North Shalina Mann welcomed the initiative. “The knowledge gained at the workshop may lead to opportunities to better connect and provide support and sensitize families on Breast Cancer and Mental Health issues,” she noted.
In 2020, more than 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and over 970 million people worldwide were affected by a mental disorder. For both breast cancer and mental health, people often suffer in silence, while their conditions go undiagnosed or untreated.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment