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This week was observed as Mental Health Week by medical professionals at the Northern Regional Hospital and its partners. To close off the week, a special ceremony was held with a few of their patients today October tenth, which is observed as Mental Health Day to reemphasize the importance of obtaining proper medical care for mental health. The week has been observed under the theme, “Living with schizophrenia”. Dalila Ical reports.

Screen_Shot_2014-10-10_at_8.39.21_PMDalila Ical – Reporting

Mental health problems affect the way you think, feel and behave. Professional medical practitioners insist that these are problems that can be diagnosed by a doctor, and should not be viewed as personal weaknesses.

In this week they focus on Schizophrenia, a severe form of mental illness. This does not however, spell doom for anyone, says Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at the Northern Regional Hosptial, Becky Tillett.

Becky Tillett – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“Schizophrenia is one of the most uncommon mental disorders but chronic, one 1% of the population in the world suffers Schizophrenia but it can also be one of the most hardest or most chronic psychotic disorders that we have so a person living with Schizophrenia really has to undergo a lot, apart from having several types of symptoms the family also has to come help deal with these symptoms so it is a very chronic illness that needs to be addressed.”

Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions.


Becky Tillett – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“The psychotic illnesses are the number one illnesses that we see and treat here in Orange Walk, second is depression and third is anxiety but Schizophrenia this is one of the psychotic illnesses not necessarily the only one.”

Tillett says the majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on.

Becky Tillett – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“I would like to inform the general public to please do not hesitate in taking your family member who you see has started with a bazar behavior and that could include talking to himself/herself, laughing to himself/herself that can be possibly a symptom that you are hearing voices inside your head and they are responding or if they become very aggressive or agitated or if you see a change in mood or behavior, emotions then please do not hesitate taking this family member to the psychiatric clinic for a proper evaluation.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“Now the culture here in Belize on a whole they are very conservative when it comes to mental illnesses, when it comes to emotions, nobody wants to say oh am depressed, they don’t want to accept that, they don’t want to accept that yeah I maybe having some mental problem, how would you encourage the public to get out of that and actually get attention to be able to live a healthier life?”

Becky Tillett – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“Well, want you are saying is true, like I said once we have a brain all of us are at high risk of suffering from some form of mental illness and when we think of mental illness we might think about the worst let’s say because it is a psychotic disorder but insomnia is also characterized as a mental illness, we also have behavioral changes, anxiety, depression even anger and aggression is also a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, we have sexual dysfunctions, we also have stress these are all common that I know that all of us have suffered or will suffer in our lifetime so once we are aware that yes I am suffering from mental illness, yes I feel depressed or I feel sad or I cannot concentrate at work, I cannot do my work like how did before, I cannot sleep, I am losing my appetite, I am losing my friend, my boss told me that he notices a difference in me then these are signs or red flags that would indicate that please you need to consult with a mental health practitioner and by doing so we are going to reduce the stigma in a society because more people come to the clinic the more open this topic will become.”

Over the years, the services to treat mental disorders have been improving at the NRH says Tillett, who has been in the profession for well over eleven years.

Becky Tillett – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

“The plan for mental health worldwide characterized by the WHO is to integrate mental illness into primary health care, meaning integrated into hospital setting so as I was mentioning to mental patients if you fall ill on a Friday night or if you have a relative that has aggressive or acting out bazar Friday or Saturday don’t wait until Monday when we work from Monday to Friday, you can always take that patient or that person to the emergency room and there we have doctors that tare being trained in mental health so they can treat this person it does have to be us.”

As mentioned, many people who live with a mental health problem or are developing one, tend to hide it from others for fear of other’s reaction. This is why the community needs to start supporting the professionals and patients to reduce the stigma surrounding the illness. 


For more information on the subject feel free to visit the psychiatric clinic at the Northern Regional Hospital compound in Orange Walk Town.

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