“Doing What Matters in Times of Stress” is launched by the PAHO and the CDB

Caribbean: The World Health Organization’s mental health management handbook, “Doing What Matters in Times of Stress,” has been updated for the Caribbean and is now widely available.

It includes realistic and straightforward activities that are intended to assist people of all ages in dealing with hardship and effectively managing stress.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) released the recommendations on Friday, January 14, in response to a demand to prioritise mental health service delivery. Because of the many difficulties caused by the pandemic, mental health services are an essential aspect of the region’s COVID-19 response. These include psychological stressors such as job loss, limited face-to-face schooling, aggression, and disease.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic has disrupted many existing mental health services, with people getting less access to counselling, mental health care, and even education where needed – these are all sources of stress that we are facing today, and PAHO has consistently called on countries and societies to prioritise mental health in such difficult times,” said Dr Renato Oliveira Souza, Unit Chief, Mental Health and Substance Use, PAHO/WHO.

Mr Dean Chambliss, PAHO/WHO Subregional Program Director, Dr Claudina Cayetano, Regional Advisor for Mental Health, PAHO/WHO, and Dr Martin Baptiste, Senior Operations Officer, CDB’s Social Sector Division, participated in a panel discussion at the launch.

“Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the Americas Region, with women experiencing it twice as often as men. However, the resources available to countries to address this problem are frequently insufficient. Mr Chambliss stated that “multisectoral collaboration and partnerships are crucial to addressing mental health concerns and promoting mental well-being.”

Dr Baptiste echoed his comments, noting that in 2018, CDB and PAHO agreed to collaborate on a project aimed at strengthening regional mental health and psychosocial support capacity in disaster management. That initiative arose in the aftermath of the catastrophic devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

“Of course, none of us could have predicted that we’d be in this uncharted region that COVID-19 has provided us with just two years later.” The pandemic has only served to emphasise the necessity of personal resilience. It’s also a prerequisite for long-term human development, according to Dr. Baptiste.

The publication is a collaborative effort that aims to close gaps in mental health service support by encouraging easy-to-learn stress management practises. The guide is divided into five sections, each of which focuses on a different strategy for dealing with stress. Readers can move through the sections of the video collection at their own pace or read the book cover to cover, pausing to practise the exercises and apply what they’ve learned in the meantime.

“The major preparation is to set aside time to read the book or listen to the audio book, as well as time and space to apply what you’ve learned and practise the strategies presented – keep in mind that the approaches and actions are evidence-based,” Dr. Cayetano advised.