WELLNESS CRISIS: Psychologist agrees with pause of Sandilands admissions but notes marked mental health impact

WELLNESS CRISIS: Psychologist agrees with pause of Sandilands admissions but notes marked mental health impact
Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

Thompson expects to face “thousands of individuals who are going to need assistance with the massive loss of life we have been experiencing in the last 12 months”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The moratorium on forensic admissions at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) is “probably the right thing to do” to avoid another crisis of overcrowding at the facility, according to renowned psychologist Dr Wayne Thompson.

However, Thompson said there has been a massive increase in individuals seeking mental health-related assistance.

Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre has a moratorium in place that governs forensic admissions, though the SRC makes weekly visits to assess and treat patients at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

According to an SRC spokesperson, the internal policy has been in place as part of the Public Hospitals Authority’s (PHA) COVID-19 pandemic management plan.

Thompson said: “I don’t think that the internal decision to put a moratorium is out of line.

Dr Wayne Thompson.

“I think that it probably is the right thing to do, and I don’t think that was designed to withhold any assistance from anyone but the realities are that the last thing they need is to develop an overcrowding problem, with mental health issues, and then have a breakout of the virus at the same time.

“…This is why this whole re-educating the general society about the importance of mental health is so critically important and we need to take more personal responsibility towards it so that only the critical cases will have to be referred to our institutions.”

Thompson, the proprietor of counseling center ‘Relationship Management’, said from Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 to the ongoing pandemic, the need for emotional, psychological and stress-related assistance due to loss of life, loss of property and loss of employment has significantly increased among the populous.

He acknowledged that the healthcare system has been overwhelmed due to the pandemic — a situation that is not isolated to The Bahamas.

“It is unfortunate and I think it would be fair to say that no country would have the capacity to have facilities available for 50 percent of the population for an extended period of time,” Thompson said.

“It is not expected for a society to have illnesses and sicknesses at that level.

“Normally, it is that you are somewhere in the range of eight to 15 percent that is a turnover number that would be manageable.

“Unfortunately, when you have a crisis and when you have natural disasters and when you have pandemics, that ratio goes from eight to 15 percent probably up to 50 or 60 percent, and if that holds for more than a 30-day period, you’re going to end up in another crisis.”

But Thompson said there is another challenge: a lack of self-governance.

According to Thompson, there must be more social teaching on freedom and self-governance, as there is often too much dependence on the government for problems that should be matters of personal responsibility.

He said no government in any country can provide for every need or desire of its population.

He said the institutions that existed decades ago are no longer sufficiently equipped to absorb the current population as it has grown over the years, and there is an ongoing need to expand — through the government and private sector — health services, including mental health services.

Asked about the impact of the moratorium amid the pandemic, Thompson said while he could not speak to the direct correlation, there has been a massive increase in individuals seeking assistance for mental health-related issues following Hurricane Dorian, and he expects to be faced with “thousands of individuals who are going to need assistance with the massive loss of life we have been experiencing in the last 12 months”.

“The grieving of the country is at a very high level and that grieving process, if individuals do not work through that process properly, can disrupt their lives for years; for years,” he added.