Mental Health Association Says Forensic Taskforce Should be the Primary Responders to Acute Episodes
In recent months Belize has seen many cases of mental health patients being mishandled which on various occasions led to tragic outcomes. According to the Secretary of the Mental Health Association, Kathy Esquivel, Belize has taken giant steps in the right direction to improve overall mental healthcare for citizens. One of those strides is joining the deinstitutionalization movement which seeks to provide mental health patients with support from family and friends, rather than having them locked away in mental hospitals. However, Esquivel explains that in some cases of acute psychotic episodes, families try to act in good faith, but these efforts can do more harm than good in some instances.
Two cases that garnered wide attention were the case of mental health patient, Francis Ramos, who was fatally shot near the Swing Bridge in Belize City last November. Ramos was wielding a knife and made continuous advancements toward the police officers who were attempting to detain him. Recently, a woman from San Pedro, Nicole Polonio, died after being tied up by her family while she was having an acute mental episode. Apolonio was reportedly restrained and left in her room and several hours later when her family checked on her, she was found dead. Esquivel says that the ideal way to deal with cases when patients need to be removed from a location is with the help of a forensic team of police officers. These would be specially trained police who are tasked to safely subdue the patient and transport them to the polyclinic.