Community Effect of Alcoholism: A Photovoice Study in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is an Eastern Caribbean country with limited inpatient and outpatient resources to meet the country’s mental health needs. In preparation for integrating mental health care into the primary care setting, we assessed knowledge of and attitudes toward mental illness among primary care providers in SVG. From October 24–November 11, 2011, we visited a convenience sample of District Health Centers in SVG. We gave a multiple-choice-answer, self-administered questionnaire to primary care providers and then administered a structured interview. Survey responses were analyzed for frequencies and interview transcripts qualitatively analyzed for major themes. We completed 53 surveys and interviews representing all nine SVG Health Districts. Results demonstrated a provider population with basic, but inadequate, knowledge of mental illness diagnosis and treatment. Results also revealed a curious and interested group of providers who felt mental illness should be a health priority and were willing and eager to receive further mental health training. Providers suggested strengthening resources in existing district clinics, providing additional staff training sessions, establishing positions with a dual health and mental health role, instituting annual mental health screening examinations, and creating weekly mental health clinics. Integrating mental health care into primary care necessitates involvement of primary care staff during the planning stages, and this study initiates an intensive effort to do so in SVG. Results have led to the development of a “mental health check-up” tool, which we hope will improve access to mental health care in this community.