The Ministry of Health has launched ‘Safe Space’, a 24-hour hotline to provide counseling services to people suffering from mental illness.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) Company and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). It aims to provide access to support for persons who are unable to have face-to-face interactions.

PAHO donated three cellular phones to the initiative, while GTT facilitated the toll-free hotline.

At the launch, Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said providing a safe space for vulnerable people is a step in the right direction.

“People have various challenges. Whether it’s health challenges, whether it’s isolation during COVID and there are so many other things that can affect people. But if they can reach out, and can get a soothing voice, a voice of reason who can help them to walk through the emotions they face or are currently feeling, to be able to help them in that way, to give them some objectives, give them some hope then by doing this, you really would be saving someone’s life.”

Dr. Anthony expressed gratitude to the telecommunications company for always assisting.

Dr. Util Richmond-Thomas, Director of the Mental Health Unit, underscored the Minister’s sentiments.

“Given the worldwide historical neglect and underfunding of mental health, and the mismatch for the need for services compared to the actual provision of it, and given the health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic; it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support services will increase in the coming months and years,” she said.

Meanwhile, GTT CEO Mr. Justin Nedd said the initiative is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility as he believes it is the company’s role “to make Guyana a better place.”

PAHO representative, Ms. Karen Roberts said e-counseling has been in the pipelines for quite some time, but was brought to the front burner earlier this year as the organisation recognised the dire need for mental health support during the pandemic.

If you or a loved one is struggling, call 655 – 7233 (655-safe) for help. The hotline is accessible to everyone free of cost.


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