By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
Students, law enforcement personnel, and even members of the public, gathered on Tuesday at the Ramada Belize City Princess to discuss depression on world Health Day.
The event, hosted by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization PAHO/WHO, was geared towards looking at depression in both the global and Belizean contexts.
The event, a first of its kind in the area of depression, involved healthcare professionals providing study data and statistics, but also included testimonials from persons who have suffered with depression, or had to help a loved one grapple with the condition.
The forum was held under the global theme Depression: Lets talk, and focused around dispelling the stigma associated with depression, which will make those suffering with the condition, more comfortable in seeking help
Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, explained that the forum was necessary because the Ministry is aware that depression in an under-reported problem in Belize, particularly among men.
“Men are less likely to seek clinical assistance in general, even more so when it comes to getting assistance for a psychological issue”, Manzanero said. “They feel that they have to man up, but real men can seek help. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he added.
Psychiatric nurse practitioner, Ingrid Claire, added to the discussion by explaining the link between anxiety (an abnormal sense of fear) and depression. Clare explained that many patients suffer from a combination of anxiety and depression, which makes treatment more difficult.
“When they have the combination, they tend to want immediate relief, but when they get it, they dont follow up with their treatment. They only return when they are in crisis,” Clare explained.
World Health Day marks the celebration of the formation of the World Health Organization, established on April 7, 1948.