The programme was originally designed to deal with the mental impact caused by the 2017 hurricanes but later incorporated the impact from the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking at the launching ceremony recently, Minister for Health, Carvin Malone said the programme comes at a vital time with the BVI in the midst of an active hurricane season while battling against COVID-19.
“As we face another hurricane season, it is easy for us to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and uncertain. The BVI-PAHO mental health and psychosocial support project has recognized the need to provide mental health and psychosocial support and build resilience in the country not only for natural disasters, as initially planned, but also to develop capacities to alleviate the mental health impacts of COVID-19,” the minister stated.
“The project has developed and incorporated an adapted component specifically to address the mental health and psychosocial needs resulting from the pandemic. This component will include the training of diverse local stakeholders to support themselves and their communities in the face of any disaster we may face, be it a hurricane, COVID-19, or whatever may come,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Irad Potter said the ministry continues to integrate COVID-19 into the territory’s national disaster plans.
“The project has been adapted to allow for responses for COVID to be integrated into all of the capacity-building opportunities and therefore we have now adapted all of the training to be virtual,” he said.
He continued: “We have, to date, virtual focus groups and we have retooled and refashioned the communication campaigns that were developed after 2017 to incorporate responses for COVID.”
The programme is a joint venture between the BVI government and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and is being financed by the Caribbean Development Bank.