– Minister CummingsConstruction of the National Mental Health Institute is expected to be completed later this year and once opened, the institution would see a quicker rehabilitation of patients suffering from mental illnesses, for reintegration into society so that they can lead healthy lives.“What we want to do now is to ensure that persons are rehabilitated, where people can go back into society so they can have a relation with their families,” Junior Health Minister, Dr Karen Cummings said.She noted that the Ministry also planned to have the Psychiatric Ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital remodelled to better suit the needs of patients.Dr Cummings said the Ministry’s Mental Health Unit was also working with patients and their families for faster reintegration. She further noted that the availability of beds at the Georgetown Hospital’s Psychiatric Ward was an issue, since the area was small and beds were limited. However, she said the Public Health Ministry was currently unaware of patients being turned away from the National Psychiatric Hospital (NPH) in Berbice, as has been reported.That hospital has the capacity to house 240 patients, but is currently dilapidated. Former Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton had promised to have the Hospital reconstructed, but to date, there has been no move made. However, Dr Cummings said she was aware that funds were set aside for the reconstruction of the institution, but she was unsure of the progress made or the amount.Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen CummingsSeveral governmental and health organisations have condemned the state of the NPH and the delivery of mental health services in Guyana.A 2008 World Health Organisation Mental Health Report stated that the NPH was “in substantial disrepair and significantly below the standard of facilities that provide for physical health care, raising concern about equitable treatment of the mentally ill. There are no standards, protocols, policies, or guidelines for the use of psychotropic medications; the assessment, treatment, monitoring, and ongoing evaluation of patients with mental disorders; the charting of patient information; or the maintenance of health records. There is little national mental health data available for mental health service monitoring and evaluation. As a consequence, datasets of sufficient quality are not available to inform service utilisation or to provide quality assurance for mental health care.”However, the Government introduced the Mental Health Action Plan 2015-2020, which was said to be yielding results since Guyana dropped three spots on the world’s suicide index and was said to be making steady progress in the area of mental healthcare.Currently, there are five psychiatrists in Guyana’s public healthcare system, and they have clinics throughout the country. They have also embarked on sensitisation campaigns, and have planned to go into schools to raise awareness and eradicate the stigma attached to mental health issues.