Bassy - Love Vine
October 8, 2004
Mental Health Weak

This is Mental Health Week and ah get the feeling that Mental Health in this country is not regarded as ah Health problem like say Diabetics, Hypertension or AIDS; ah was going to say Rein-all Failure (Kidney) but that too, like Mental Health is not ah priority.

But we dealing with the folks that “Men-tell-he-ill”. Ah been visiting that place since ah small. {{more}}My Dad spent ah good twenty or so years ah his life in and out ah that Centre. Ah was ah lickle ten year ole youth then, and during school vacation ah would journey with my Grand-mother on foot, five miles, to visit him regularly.

The term Men-tell-he-ill is modern and soothing, back then, people referred to yoh as “Crazy Man, Mad Woman and Mad House”. Crazy People and TB Patients carried ah Stigma in the society, treated like how we treat AIDS Victims today, not that things have changed.


My first trip to the Centre was terrifying. The property was enclosed with walls that looked like twenty feet high (in the eyes of ah child). Inside the compound was like ah Jail, iron bars at every window, the very hostile ones were locked in cells, naked fuh they own safety but within public viewing. Attendants were called Warders like the Prisons then, and job selection was based on strength, height and size, de physical requirements to control those Mad People. The latest treatment foh Crazy People then, was the Electric Shock. Yuh were strapped to ah bed and ah certain amount ah volts was charged into the body that was suppose to shock the Madness or Crazy-ness out ah the brain. Sister Allen was the Nurse, Mr. Clouden the Dispenser and Doc Cordice, that great Vincy Son was there. Andrew Cummings touched ah lickle bit on his priceless contribution ah few weeks ago. There was ah lickle building at the gate where craft was taught. Patients learned ah lot ah Coconut Craft, how to extract Fibre from the coconut to mek mattresses; floor and table mat making; and ah unique Coconut Straw Hat, that should ah mek the market, but people soon found out that they were made at the Mental Home and called them Crazy People Hat! Men played Draughts and Cards and there was ah Cricket Ground at the back where, Doc uses to organize Games between the patients and the few members ah the community who didn’t fraid the Stigma.


But all ah that was fifty years ago. My Dad finally recovered, thanks to some new Drugs and most importantly Prayers and moral support from family and friends. Fortunately foh me now, there is ah Ministry in my Church that requires members to visit the Aged, Sick, Imprisoned and Men-tell-he-ill every month. It is difficult not to notice what’s happening there. It is ah shame that over the last fifty years, Guv-ah-mint after Guv-ah-mint from Charles to Joshua, Cato to Mitchell and now de Come-Red and like nothing changed! is like nobody cares. Nobody looking out foh the Mental, they tell them ‘bout Mint-all.

The Centre is probably worse now, over populated. Built foh fifty persons, now has over two hundred patients most ah them youths. Alcoholics, Men-tell-he-ill, Drug Addicts Skits-ah-feign-ache and who ever, all bundled up to-get-her. It must be frustrating foh staff and no doubt morale out dey got to be low. The Cricket Field is no more, maybe the Lotto could think about ah Hard Court. The same massive wall is still standing, Prison Bars still there; the lickle timber Craft Shop is replaced with ah modern O.T. as in Occupational Therapy Building but lacking facilities badly, personnel trained in OT and waiting, and approved International Grant money foh the project, locked-up some way and can’t reach its destination.

‘Getting directions right’

And my friend Dr. E.G. King is back. Think he came to look after his Mom, Miss Norma. But the improvement ah seeing on him, he really looking good since he’s back, ah think Miss Norma is who doing the caring. But whenever he’s here we get into fights, ole and new. His problem is that he can’t tek or overs direction. Ah told him to meet me at the Recovery Office, by the SVG Development Bank, Upstairs the New Met-dis Building, Opposite the Seventh Day Adventist Church, on Granby Street. That is so easy, Lie-Za say she found it with her eyes close. But E.G. can better that, he says why not name Streets and number the Buildings. All that direction stuff ah called out could be given in four words: “Number Nine Granby Street”! Ah don’t know what is E.G’ s problem, this is suppose to be in ah New Carry-Beyond Civil-lies-I-say-shun, we have no time to waste with who can’t find where. We planning to cut ah tunnel thru Cane Garden and we going to build ah Cross Country Road without any Plan.

Just foh the kicks of it ah asked him way he live; he said: “ I’m at Edinboro, take the road to Fort Charlotte; after you leave the Cemetery, go pass Nine Steps and the Pan Yard, at the first intersection, take the road that turns off to the left above the Bishop’s Residence. Come down the hill, don’t take the first road on the left, that carries yuh to the Old Club Cove; and don’t go past the second road, that one goes to Kerwyn Morris and the Beach. Between those two roads is ah bridge, go pass the bridge and the second house on the left hand side of the road, ask foh me there!” Then he asked me if ah think ah have it. Ah had ah good laugh and ah tell him “ Yuh living at Number Nine Roy Eustace Drive!”

And with that, ah gone again. And ah looking foh nuff Tri Tri this Sat-dey.

One Love Bassy.