Homosexuality has become a hot button issue in Barbados like many countries around the world. It has morphed to a civil rights issue. Has anyone noticed the alacrity with which some of Barbados’ prominent citizens rally behind this cause?
On the other hand there is a group of people in Barbados who have been marginalized and stigmatized more than any other. If you are known to be afflicted with a mental illness the average Barbadian will shun you like a leper. If you want to live a ‘normal’ life do not visit that Black Rock facility.
While all the focus is on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) goings on at the Psychiatric Hospital in Black Rock has been slipping under the radar. This current state of affairs reflects accurately the importance Barbadians and officials alike view the importance of mental care. Hopefully the day will come soon when the opinion of the psychologist will be given the same weight as the medical doctor.
Another feature of mental care in Barbados is the way patients are treated at the Black Rock institution. BU is aware of mentally ill patients referred to the Psychiatric Hospital by the Courts who have had to endure the most inhumane treatment. In some cases the treatment meted out can be compared to what a person remanded to Dodds would expect; being made to strip to the birthday suit and not to forget the obligatory ‘injections’. Anyone can suffer from a mental disorder given the stressful environment which has enveloped all of our lifes.
In light of how people suffering mental disorders have been treated in Barbados, we should be asking what can be done to change attitudes.
Do we need to add laws to the statute books? How can the new Chief Justice help to sensitize Officers of the Courts the need to treat the mentally ill without showing prejudice? Not to forget the employees at the Psychiatric Hospital who are into profiling. Based on who you are perceived to be you are treated with greater or less respect accordingly. One should not have to come from a “good” family to be treated with respect when they go to ‘clinic’. Medication should be dispensed based on patient’s condition and not on the whims and fancy of hospital personnel. One does not have to be a doctor to appreciate that the incorrect administering of medications can have long term negative effects on the body and may accentuate the illness of the patient.
Now here is a cause which is worthy of advocacy. The homosexual many argue has the freedom to make choices, can we say the say thing for individuals who are suffering from a mental illness?