Mental Health Foundation hosts congress on St. Maarten

POSTED: 09/16/13 12:05 PM

St. Maarten -Director of the Mental Health Foundation Eileen Healy announced that there will be a congress on mental health beginning on September 30, titled Transforming Care. “Why the title Transforming Care? The congress symbol is the butterfly, which transforms from a young insect, to a cocoon and then becomes a beautiful butterfly. The congress is a combined effort of the St. Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Turing Point, The Parnassia group in the Netherlands, and SVP-CN of the BES Islands,” Healy said. “The Congress is also supported by the Ministries of Justice and Education in an effort to create cooperation between the organizations.

“Much has been suggested regarding care delivery systems, and one of the main discussions is cooperation between health care organizations as well as the stakeholders. What is being done? Formal cooperation agreements do exist between organizations in the Caribbean but the majority remains informal,” she continued.

“The goal of the congress is to transform how we deliver care, with the intention to improve lives of patients, prevention of criminality and community disruptions, including the economic advantage of cooperation and prevention. The focus will be on the youth the program focuses on ‘Co-creating younger peoples program for resilience,” Healy went on.

“Transformation is a painful process just as the process of the insect cocooning, but the result is a beautiful butterfly. As organizers we believe that this congress realizes a need that benefits patients and supports many in caring for addicted and psychiatric patients. The role of stakeholders and caregivers as well as, the social aspects of addiction and psychiatric care, needs more exposure in order to reduce the stigma. We have therefore have made sincere efforts to present a Congress with a wide variety of experienced and established speakers,” Healy concluded.

Saturday 28 September is the official opening by Minister of Health Cornelius de Weever, followed by registration and a reception. Health-care providers, both local and from abroad, are invited to attend.

The congress itself kicks off on Monday September 30.  Its theme: Treatment methods and cooperation agreements. Psychiatrists from St. Maarten, Curacao, and the Netherlands, and, amongst others, Dr. Gilbert Thomas, well known for the years that he visited St. Maarten, will be attending. Thomas lives in the Netherlands and works on a fact team (assertive community treatment). Drs. Kraal from Berenschot in the Netherlands will lecture about “The importance of creating partnerships in addiction and mental health.”

Later that afternoon, 3 simultaneous workshops start 1:30 pm which are then repeated at 2:45 pm. Dr. Gandotra of MHF along with Kenneth Cuvalay of Statia will conduct a workshop on “Different contexts, different challenges, setting up psychiatric and addiction care and treatment between the islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and Statia.” And Drs. Schloss of Social Welfare will lecture on community based prevention.

Monday evening at 7 pm, 4 lectures for general practitioners, specialists, and pharmacists will begin, and there will be 2 separate lectures for students and parents.  The lecturers will be Professor Walburg, president of the supervisory board of the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands, and Drs. Havermans, researcher at the Innovation Centre of Mental Health.  The topic will be “Flourishing St. Maarten.”

The conference will continue on October 1. The theme will be “Addiction psychiatry and re-socialization.” There will be lecturers from the ministry of VSA about the results of the AIMS research (assessment instrument for mental health systems), from PAHO as well as Dr. Kour of the Mental Health foundation.

Dr. Noorlander from the Delta Psychiatric Centre in the Netherlands will give a lecture on “addiction spectrum disorder.” And Drs. Steven van der Meer will give one titled “Sheltered Housing and means to recovery.”

Later that same day 3 simultaneous lectures will be given at 1:30 pm which will be repeated at 2:45 pm. There will also be case discussions on drug and alcohol abuse among St. Maarten youth and “Which course to sail for child and youth psychiatry on small Islands?”  by Dr. Arndell, Dr. Jurgensen, Dr. Ferero, and Dr. Van Wijk.

At 7 pm there will be another lecture titled “Co-creating younger peoples program for resilience” by Professor Walburg. MHF hopes many students and parents, educators, and stakeholders attend as its important for them.

On October 2, the theme will be “Youth awareness and prevention” and there will be 4 lectures.

Resilience and addiction prevention, game addiction, community police, youth addiction and criminality, psychiatric evaluations and the justice system and involving parents in prevention and addiction programs are the main topics for the morning sessions. Chief of Police Jacobs and Public Prosecutor Van Nie are speakers as well as a representative from the Parnassia group.

The afternoon workshop topics are: “You are UniQue: Youth prevention and treatment program for drug use, abuse and dependency” by Pengel from FMA Curacao, and “A chain approach: Youth/Addiction/Criminality” by Jacobs and Van Nie.

The congress will be a big accreditation for psychiatrists and general practitioners.

“We hope to welcome as much as possible persons from St. Maarten and the region,” MHF said in its press release.  More detailed information is available on the web-site


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