BHB turns on green light for mental health awareness

Tuesday 30 November 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board will again turn on its green light next month in support of mental health awareness. Green is the colour chosen internationally to denote mental health. This year the theme of mental health awareness is to make nature a part of your everyday life.

For us in Bermuda, getting out in nature almost always involves getting out into greenery. Even if you take a leisurely walk along the beach you’ll be faced with wonderful green trees and grasses.

On Wednesday 1 December, Preston Swan, Acting Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Clinical Operations at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), will flick the switch at sister hospital King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH), lighting the outside of that facility green.

“COVID-19 has brought the importance of mental health to the fore,” said Mr Swan. “All of us who live in Bermuda recognise the increased stress and anxiety many of us have endured. As a mental health professional, I would urge you to spend some time in nature. It is scientifically proven to have a calming effect on the mind. When you add relaxed deep breathing, you may actually feel an improvement in your stress level and blood pressure.”

“As you pass by KEMH in the December night, please enjoy the green light. Green is a calming colour. Take stock of your mental health and think positive thoughts,” Mr Swan added.

“If you are feeling overwhelmed please reach out to a professional who can help – seeking support is not a sign of weakness,” said BHB Acting Chief of Psychiatry Dr Anna Neilson-Williams. “You are not alone. We encourage you to contact MWI, your GP or one of the range of mental health professionals available within our community.”

If you need mental health assistance, please call the MWI Acute Community Health Service at 249-3432. For serious mental health crises at any time of the day or night, call 239-1111.

30 November 2021 Home Page, News

BHB celebrates International Day of People with Disabilities

Tuesday 23 November 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board’s (BHB) Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) invites the public to join in celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities on Friday 3 December 2021.

“Persons with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in our community,” said Preston Swan, BHB Acting COO and MWI VP Clinical Operations. “Last year we celebrated with a motorcade – which provided positive attention on our clients. It was so well received that we are doing it again this year.”

“We encourage the public to be as colourful and as noisy as possible cheering our motorcade of clients and staff from our Intellectual Disabilities Department as they travel their route,” said LeRoya Hardtman BHB Intellectual Disabilities Department supervisor and event organiser. “The clients truly enjoy the attention. Please bring your whistles and other noise makers, pom poms or other shows of support.”

The motorcade will follow a Police escort from MWI through Hamilton, along Point Finger Road to South Road and back to MWI. MWI clients will decorate many of the vehicles.

“The theme this year is Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era,” said Morrisa Rogers, BHB Clinical Director of the Intellectual Disabilities Department. “To this end we will be continuing to work with the Ministry on developing a National Intellectual Disabilities Plan that outlines how we can support those with intellectual disabilities and their families.”

“I join BHB in encouraging the public to come out and cheer on the motorcade,” said Tinee Furbert Minister of Social Development and Seniors. “The greater the numbers, the greater the show of support and the happier the clients and staff will be. Please make a note of the route and plan to be on it.”

The route: Depart New Dimensions at 11am. Turn right on Hermitage Road. Pass Elliott School. Right on Middle Road. Pass Somersfield Academy. Turn right onto Barker’s Hill, left onto Palmetto Road, left to Old Military Road and pass Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy. Turn right onto Palmetto Road then left onto Roberts Avenue to K Margaret Carter Centre and stop in the yard.

Leaving K Margaret Carter Centre turn left onto Frog Lane. Stay left then right onto Happy Valley Road. Pass Tomorrow’s Voices. Turn left on King Street, right on Reid Street, left on Front Street to Par-La Ville Road. Left on Church Street. Pass Ageing and Disabilities Office. Turn onto Cedar Avenue to Elliot Street. Pass Dellwood Middle School. Left on Parsons Road to Montpelier Road. Left to Middle Road down Flora Duffy Way (Corkscrew Hill). Pass KEMH on Point Finger Road. Right onto South Road back to MWI.

23 November 2021 Home Page, News

Make Nature A Part Of Your Everyday Life – Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Monday 4 October 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board and its Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute invite the public to join them this week in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is Nature – It’s Part of Your Everyday Life.

“Mental health is important to each and every one of us, not just those of us who have a mental health ailment,” said Health Minister Kim Wilson.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to focus on our mental health a bit more than we would normally. This is good. We are all, I believe, more open to discovering and adopting ways to protect and build resilience for our mental wellbeing.

“This week we, the Government, would like the entire community to connect with nature- perhaps in new ways and to notice how this makes them feel – perhaps you feel calmer, less anxious or just feel that you are in a better mood.

“Connecting with nature is easy to incorporate in your everyday life – you can have your lunch in one of the parks, tend to your house plants, listen to birds, smell flowers, write poetry about nature, hug a tree,  or enjoy walking or running along our beautiful railway trails and pristine beaches. Enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures and have a picnic with your children.

“This week, we ask you to do 3 things: – experience nature, share nature on social media and talk about nature. In other words, for this week: Make Nature a Part of Your Everyday Life.”

BHB Acting Chief of Psychiatry Dr Anna Neilson-Williams said:There is growing research that shows a correlation between being in nature and improvement in mental wellbeing. Time in nature has been shown to reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, reduce nervous system arousal, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and improve mood.”

“A UK survey this year coordinated by the UK Mental Health Foundation, found that 59% of the respondents felt going for a walk outside helped them cope with stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic and 50 percent felt that just being able to visit green space helped them,” said BHB Acting Chief Operating Officer and VP of Clinical Operations – MWI, Preston Swan.

“This shows that even small amounts of time in nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting your mental health,” he added. “BHB invites the public to tune into The Daily Hour on Facebook from 8am-9am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week to learn about how nature can impact mental health in different age groups.

“We also encourage the public to make a point of being in nature this week and to notice the positive impact this has on their mood and mental wellbeing.”

MWI’s annual MindFrame PhotoVoice exhibition which features artwork from MWI clients, opened on Friday 24 September at the Bermuda Society of Arts in City Hall. The exhibition is free to the public and runs until 13 October.

4 October 2021 News

Support for mentally ill now stationed in Magistrates’ Court and Hamilton Police Station

Tuesday 21 September 2021: Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) is pleased to announce a joint initiative between its Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), the Magistrates’ Court, the Department of Court Services and Bermuda Police Service. The collaboration resulted in the pilot of a new post: Liaison and Diversion Officer (LDO).  On 8 February, an MWI psychiatric nurse took station at the Magistrates’ Courts and at Hamilton Police Station in the new role.

Retired MWI psychiatric nurse Geraldine Smith agreed to serve in the post during the pilot.

Preston Swan, Acting Chief Operating Officer, said creation of the post is part of MWI’s efforts to be more responsive to community needs and meet people in the settings where they need assistance.

“The LDO provides psychiatric support to persons with mental health challenges,” he said. “The LDO also advises authorities where a diversion from the justice system for mental health treatment is appropriate.”

Since the start of the project, the LDO has had 336 encounters with individuals seeking support, 38% (129) were persons known to MWI and 23% (77) were current clients of MWI.  Not everyone took advantage of the service. Six percent (21) declined additional mental health support from MWI or the LDO.

“Attending court and interacting with police can pose unique challenges for some people with mental illness,” Mr. Swan added. “There are specific methods that can be used to effectively communicate with such persons, but it is complex as the methods vary based on the person’s particular challenge or diagnosis. Psychiatric professionals are best qualified to recognise this and interact appropriately.

“We are pleased to provide this service in the Magistrates’ Court and at the police station.”

Senior Magistrate Juan Wolffe said:  “Through the creation of the Drug Treatment Court, the Mental Health Treatment Court, and the DUI Court the Magistrates’ Courts has for some time been implementing therapeutic forms of jurisprudence.  In doing so individuals who have come before the Magistrates’ Court have been directed to helping agencies in order to address the root causes of their behaviour rather than being incarcerated.  The services of the LDO has taken these objectives a monumental step further by providing immediate and direct assistance and intervention to individuals who appear in the Magistrates’ Court with mental or physical challenges.  Since the project began the assigned LDO has been worth her weight in gold by triaging the complex and sensitive issues of individuals and thereby providing Magistrates with crucial information and recommendations which ultimately assists Magistrates in arriving at a resolution which is beneficial to all parties involved in the proceedings.”

“As Police, we interact directly with all sectors of our community,” said Chief Police Inspector Alexander Rollin. “As such we must be flexible in our approach to meet their diverse needs. It has become increasingly challenging for us to manage situations involving some of those who have mental illness.”

Chief Inspector Rollin added: “We have already experienced the benefits of having the Liaison and Diversion Officer and look forward to the continued partnership.”

21 September 2021 Home Page, News

BHB gives mental health the green light

Sunday 13 December 2020: Green is synonymous with Christmas, but it’s also the colour chosen internationally to denote mental health. This holiday season the management and staff of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute are shedding light on the importance of good mental health.

On Monday 14 December, Preston Swan, Vice President of Clinical Operations, MWI, will flick the switch at sister hospital King Edward VII Memorial Hospital lighting the outside of that facility green.

“The theme for mental health this year is kindness, and in this season of giving we want to remind the public that simply being kind to someone can have a positive impact on their mental health,” said BHB Chief of Psychiatry Chantelle Simmons.

“As we experience increasing numbers of COVID positive cases in the community, stress levels are likely rising, and feelings of sadness or anxiety may emerge. These are normal reactions during this unprecedented period. Being kind in this climate can be comforting, uplifting and help to boost our mood,” she continued.

“When you see the green lighting on the hospital in the December night, we would like you to pause and take stock of your mental health,” said Mr Swan. “Think kindness – being kind to yourself and to others. It need not cost money. Enjoy the beauty around you and share your thoughts with others.”

“If you are feeling overwhelmed please reach out to a professional who can help –seeking support is not a sign of weakness,” said BHB Deputy Chief of Psychiatry Anna Neilson-Williams. “You are not alone. We encourage you to contact MWI, your GP or one of the range of mental health professionals available within our community.”

If you need mental health assistance, please call the MWI Acute Community Health Service at 249-3432. For serious mental health crisis at any time of the day or night, call 239-1111.

13 December 2020 Home Page, News