To bolster awareness and deal with the stigma encircling mental health, a senate panel voted Thursday to pass a bill declaring May as Virgin Islands Mental Health Awareness Month.
The vote took place at a hearing of the Senate Committee in Health, Human Services and Hospitals.
Since the 2017 storms, the territory has suffered from a rapid deterioration of psychological well being due to the closure of centers such as The Clubhouse, which reopened in late 2019, a lack of medical professionals and an influx of mentally ill sufferers.
Nearly a year has passed since the governor’s declaration and committee members expressed their continued concern for the problems surrounding the problem, which ranged from the expenditure of allocated funding for psychological well-being services to patients being housed at the St. Thomas jail.
V.I. Division of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion stated the division has made strides towards contractual contracts with off-island behavioral health centers, which will accelerate the waiting process a bit for patients sitting in jail, instead of proper health care centers.
Encarnacion added the division would start doing rounds to check on the physiological state of these sufferers who’re waiting for a place into facilities, along with the woman Sarauw had referenced – whom Encarnacion stated she had no prior knowledge of.
The Legislature has allocated approximately $15 million the last term for psychological well being Sarauw said.