Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 3rd 2015 Contents On May 30, 2012, Cheryl
Miller, an accounts assistant
at the Ministry of Gender,
Youth and Child Development
was removed from her office and
taken to the St Ann s Psychiatric
That Ministry was then under
the guidance of Verna St Rose
Greaves and the thunderous fall-
out from the incident played no
small part in the end of the
activist s relationship with the
People s Partnership Government.
The response to the incident
was brisk, sharp and unequivocal.
Co-workers staged a protest out-
side Parliament a few days later
on April 5, while Ms Miller
remained at the hospital.
Catherine Mitchell, a friend and
former colleague of Ms Miller
when she worked at the Sport
Ministry wept openly on the
pavement during the protest.
"That girl Cheryl touched my
heart," she said as she sobbed.
Psychiatrist Dr Gerard Hutchin-
son declared in his evaluation
report, submitted to the court on
April 12, that Ms Miller did not
"pose a danger to herself or to
members of the public."
On that basis, Justice Vashiest
Kokaram ordered Ms Miller
released after a 15-day stay at the
institution. Dr Amery Browne, a
former social development minis-
ter, described the incident as a
"shame and disgrace" and "a
clear abuse of power and the
Mental Health Act."
Public Services Association
president Watson Duke was angry
when he called a press conference
on May 18, calling for a settle-
ment of $10 million as compen-
sation for the incident.
On Monday, the whole
appalling incident came to a for-
mal legal conclusion with the
award of $850,000 by presiding
Judge Judith Jones, for "her men-
tal suffering, affront to her digni-
ty and damage to her reputation."
Included in the compensation
package was an award of $75,000
for the administration of psychot-
ic drugs to a patient who should
never have been there in the first
place. The North West Regional
Health Authority may have gotten
Key questions posed by UWI
lecturer and urologist consultant
Dr Phillip Ayoung-Chee have
never been fully answered. Soon
after the matter hit the news, Dr
Ayoung-Chee asked three key
Who called the mental health
officer to the office? Over what
period of time did the mental
health officer observe Miller
before deciding to admit her?
Why were her relatives not called
to the office before calling the
mental health officer? Such ques-
tions point to lines of responsibil-
ity and culpability in this inci-
The whole unfortunate matter
only serves to highlight inade-
quate understanding of the fact
that many tiers of intervention
exist between controlling some-
one s office outburst and com-
mitting them to a mental institu-
tion. Cited as evidence and justi-
fication in the court were the
condition of Ms Miller s cubicle,
and her allegedly unkempt
appearance, matters that would
have been more sensibly
addressed by a proactive human
resources intervention instead of
the appalling actions that were
taken three years ago.
Mental health is too poorly
understood and managed in
Trinidad and Tobago. Diagnosing
"madness," and labelling people
as "mad" must never this casual-
ly be administered in managing
office behavior, however eccentric
and erratic it may be.
In the case of Cheryl Miller, the
Mental Health Act was used as a
This unfortunate incident must
stand as an example of all the
missteps that must be avoided, in
identify and dealing with issues
of mental health.
Mental health is too poorly understood and managed in Trinidad and Tobago.
Diagnosing "madness," and labelling people as "mad" must never this casually be
administered in managing office behavior, however eccentric and erratic it may be.
In the case of Cheryl Miller, the Mental Health Act was used as a bludgeon.
A product of Guardian Media Ltd
KINGSTON---An opinion piece carried
by the Telegraph late last month
seemingly pits the world against
American Justin Gatlin, who has
recently been re-signed by sportswear
The article chastised Gatlin, a two-
time drug cheat, even saying he should
be forgotten history now. It also blasted
sponsor Nike, arguing that it sent the
wrong message to children and other
athletes to "take drugs, get caught
twice and shine a shoe contract."
The Telegraph piece insisted that
"this is the same Nike that dropped
Gatlin in 2006 after his second failed
It questioned: "What type of message
does the image of a Nike-sponsored
drug cheat with a gold medal round his
neck send to fellow athletes and
It said Nike have proven that all
morals have a price. "Never associate
with a drug cheat...unless they stand a
chance of winning."
At the same time, it said the sport
already had its hero, Jamaica's Usain
"Amid a ceaseless cycle of doping
controversies, the six-time Olympic
champion is athletics' savior, with his
speed," it said adding that "under his
guidance, 100m sprinting was in safe
Bolt, however, took a temporary step
back making less track appearances in
2014 allowing for Gatlin to creep into
"In Bolt's absence the twice-disgraced
Gatlin ensured he could rightly lay claim
to the title of fastest man in the world.
And when you are the fastest man in
the world there is money to be made."
"Gatlin is not the man that Nike
needs and not the man the sport needs.
Athletics needs its real superhero to
return. Step forward Bolt. Your sport
needs you," the article said.
SOUND-OFF: Gatlin not only threatens Bolt, but also athletics
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Misunderstanding mental illness
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