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Magistrate calls for dual diagnosis unit for mental health

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Maxanne Anderson (File photograph)

A magistrate has renewed calls for better mental health resources on the island.

Maxanne Anderson said that a dual-diagnosis centre was needed to help those in Bermuda who suffered both psychological and drug problems.

She added that while there were mental health resources on the island that did important work, "our work is not done”.

Ms Anderson said: “We still have a long way to go — our island home desperately needs a dual-diagnosis unit for treatment of co-occurring disorders and a forensic unit.”

Ms Anderson was speaking on Thursday at the Mental Health Treatment Court annual Thanksgiving sitting.

The court offers a programme for offenders with mental health problems to tackle the challenges that led to their crimes instead of being fined or sent to prison.

The ceremony, themed “Thanksgiving”, saw clients offer what they were thankful for, and featured speeches from magistrates, graduates of the programme and members of court staff.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe and magistrate Maxanne Anderson during the final sitting of the Mental Health Treatment Court for 2021 (Photograph supplied)

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said that while there were people who worked tirelessly to help others with mental health problems, “as a community, we need to do better”.

He said: “We must stop treating those who have mental health issues as pariahs, and we need to treat mental health with the same attention, vigour and resources that we do with physical health.”

Mr Wolffe added: “There is an extremely fine line between those of us who think that we do not have a mental health issue and those of us who may have a mental health issue.

“The last two years have shown us that any one of us — for reasons beyond our control — may be challenged mentally.

“Therefore, conversations about mental health should not be uncomfortable.

“We must continue to shine a light on the need to ensure that mental health services are properly resourced.”

Tinee Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, said that mental health was “the biggest battle we’ll have to fight” — which made proper resources all the more important.

She added: “It is up to us what we call good vibes and positive thoughts in our heads so that we can go forward with every day life — because we do go through many struggles in our lives.”