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The number of people with mental illnesses is increasing in Bonaire

The number of people with mental illnesses is increasing in Bonaire

April 19, 2024 | Natalie Evertsz

There is an increase in the number of people suffering from mental illness in Bonaire. According to data from Mental Health Caribbean (MHC), an organization that provides treatment for psychological and mental problems, 40 people receive treatment every three months.

This increase is partly due to population growth on Bonaire and escalating social problems. “There are more social problems as a result of poverty, for example. There is also greater awareness of mental health and the threshold for coming to us may be lower,” explains an MHC spokesperson.

The island's psychiatric outpatient clinic has noticed a significant increase in the number of patients. Psychological problems have also become more complex, with an average of 400 patients in mental health care centres.

He increases
Nina Den Heyer, Deputy Public Health Officer, is aware of this increase. A few years ago, she says, MHC actually sounded the alarm about this increase.

“They noted that an increasing number of registered clients would benefit from receiving preventive and primary care. For this reason, Centro Accesso was established. “To relieve pressure on secondary and tertiary care,” she says.

Den Heyer focuses on offering a more comprehensive package of precautions. “Our goal is to prevent social problems from leading to mental health problems.”

Waiting time for treatment
This increase also creates a waiting list. It stands to reason that this would also have consequences once the patient waits for treatment. “Treatments can last longer than a year and a half. This makes it difficult to keep up with the waiting list.”

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It must be taken into account that if it is urgent, for example in crisis situations, the person will be treated immediately. This affects the waiting list.

It is true that people who currently need psychiatric or psychological treatment will have to wait for some time. Longer than the stated standard. In the Netherlands, a standard for waiting time in healthcare has been agreed.

This “Treeknorm” indicates that there should be no more than 4 weeks between the moment a person seeks care and receives the intake. It takes 10 weeks from ingestion to treatment.

Waiting list
The psychiatric outpatient department cannot meet this standard, due to the significant increase in the number of patients. However, less than half of the patients (41) on the waiting list are waiting longer than usual. Therefore, efforts are underway to reduce the number of people waiting for assistance.

More broadly, one could say that waiting lists in mental health care are linked to what is going wrong with investments in health care development on Bonaire. “‘Treatment’, such as specialist medical care, developed before ‘care’, including social work, guidance and assistance with debt repayment,” the MHC said.

This means that social problems that did not receive enough attention eventually worsen and the person ends up in MHC.