Absence of a psychiatrist in SVG creating problems – PM
December 2, 2016

Absence of a psychiatrist in SVG creating problems – PM

Was the ball dropped by one or more persons along the way?

That is the question being asked by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as it relates to Jurani Baptiste, the young man of Old Sandy Bay, who is a person of interest in four killings that took place between Sunday night, November 13 and Monday morning, November 14.{{more}}

Baptiste, who persons say is mentally ill, is alleged to have murdered Edinboro resident Nicholas Layne, 30 (attacked in the public road at Cocoa, Campden Park);Avis Israel, 75, and her son Ronald Israel, 42, (both of Old Montrose and attacked in their home); and Pamela Williams of Kingstown Park, 57 (attacked in her home).

The Prime Minister said while he cannot comment on Baptiste’s case as the judicial system has to do its work, he has ordered that an analysis be done from a policy standpoint.

Speaking on Monday at Cabinet Room, Gonsalves said that while persons in the United States and other countries sometimes go on killing sprees, this is not supposed to happen in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“…so we have to analyse in great detail and learn where persons or person have dropped the ball. There is always a scope for blame where one side say is one person and the other side say is that person and the system fail, but I don’t have that luxury of finger pointing, I have to be very dispassionate in the analysis and get all the information,” said Gonsalves.

Baptiste’s mother, Celia Baptiste, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, said while she tried her best to help her son, the system failed him.

But Gonsalves, while not laying blame, noted that what is undeniable in this situation is that the country has no trained psychiatrist at the Mental Hospital and attempts to get one have so far failed.

He noted that while we have psychologists and trained nurses in the area of mental health, the absence of a psychiatrist is creating problems.

“…the absence of a psychiatrist is not the reason in my view for the many problems which may be related to mental health, but there is need for the presence of a psychiatrist,” said the Prime Minister, who noted that Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams was correct to complain from a legal standpoint, in relation to the absence of a psychiatrist.

Gonsalves said that there are persons who come before the court who are required to get an assessment by a psychiatrist, not a psychologist or counsellor, but there is that absence and the need has to be filled.

He noted that while the presence of a psychiatrist doesn’t address mental health issues on a whole, the absence is critical in the judicial system.

Gonsalves revealed that last Friday, he spoke to chief medical officer (CMO) Simone Keizer-Beache and asked “when are we getting the psychiatrist?” and the CMO responded that attempts are being made to recruit one and that has been hard, so in the meantime they are in the process of concluding an arrangement with a retired psychiatrist from another country who could at least come in on an organized, though itinerant basis, to do assessments.

“The Government is very concerned about mental health; that is why we are shortly to open this new facility and it needs to be staffed with a trained psychiatrist…mental illness can be corrected and treated like other illnesses,” said Gonsalves, who added that he is keeping his fingers crossed that we will soon get a psychiatrist, because the resources are there for that.(LC)