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Saint Lucia observes Self-Injury Awareness Day

By Fernelle Neptune, Ministry of Health

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(PRESS RELEASE) — In commemoration of Self-Injury Awareness Day (March 1), the Department of Health and Wellness is working to raise awareness among Saint Lucians about self-injury and self-harm.

The department is encouraging Saint Lucians to be open minded about mental health and recovery.

Consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Julius Gillard, said it is important that people choose be to open about self-harm, and to receive the necessary assistance.

“The aim is to make people aware of the help that is available to those who are going through emotional distress,” Dr. Gillard said. “We know that one of the main reasons people self-injure is because they have no way of dealing with emotional distress. It is a coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress.”

Dr. Gillard said Saint Lucians should take advantage of the services available at the National Mental Wellness Centre.

“Those people who are experiencing overwhelming emotions can get assistance. They can call the helpline at 203.” He added: “Usually, people think they have to call the helpline when the emotion is too much and they are contemplating suicide, but emotions can be dealt with early, and persons can learn other coping mechanisms. Self-injury predisposes people to suicide, so it is important that people know that assistance is available. They can call the helpline, or they can go to their general practitioner for a referral to the National Mental Wellness Centre, where they can access counseling services.”

Dr. Gillard encourages Saint Lucians to help others suffering from the menace of self-injury, and to provide support.

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