Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2017 Contents news A11
Thursday, January 12, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Curbing the stigma at-
tached to getting treatment
for mental health issues is
a continuous battle but the
South West Regional Health
Authority (SWRHA) is not giv-
As the authority continued it's
Psychological and Mental Health
First Aid training series on Tues-
day, regional manager of Psychiat-
ric/Mental Health Services Pooran
Sankar said doctors and nurses are
being trained in bridging the image
gap associated with treatment.
Sankar was speaking as the
SWRHA hosted Muslim leaders from
the South West region in an attempt
to introduce them to Psychological
First Aid (PFA).
The session was the third of it's
kind hosted by the SWRHA in the
past months, with teachers, students
and pastors benefiting from the first
two. PFA involves the humane, sup-
portive and practical to help others
who have experienced an extremely dis-
Asked by one participant about the stig-
ma associated with mental illness, Sankar
replied: "We are trying to see how we can
deal with the stigma and we have taken the
approach of trying to bridge the image gap.
"We have been training doctors and
nurses and we are also trying to seat all
of the patients together so it will not be
obvious who is receiving what treat-
"It is a constant and continuous
effort but we can break down the
stigma attached to mental health
issues and treatments."
Clinical psychologist Giselle
Dumas spoke to the imams about
their role in providing PFA to mem-
bers, telling them they already have the
most of the skills needed to get the job done.
"This is very practical and based on pull-
ing out skills you already have and applying
to it helping those under you who would
look up to you," she said.
However, she urged them to not to push
too far with people or to be too intrusive
while trying to help others.
"Remember, even though they are vulner-
able they still have rights and can make their
own decisions, the first rule of PFA is to
respect the person and their choices."
She said as religious leaders, the
imams are in a position to be 'first
responders' in their communities as
people in distress often try to seek help
in their communities first.
Mental Health Officer 1, Merene
Singh advised the imams how to treat
with people who abuse drugs or al-
"Don't make any assumptions on
their problems but listen to what
they have to say," Singh said.
"Try to look at alcoholism or
drug abuse the way you would look
at any disease."
Scholarship recipient accused
of not returning to serve
A former na-
of failing to fulfil
his contract of not
working for the State
after completing his
studies in medicine,
appeared in court on
Monday to challenge a
$3 million judgement.
Dr Ryan Wellington,
testified before High Court
Judge Nadia Kangaloo, at
the Hall of Justice, Port-of-
Spain, during his civil trial
for allegedly breaching his
scholarship contract with
Central to his defence is
whether he was properly
informed the Government
after the completion of his
studies of a job opportunity.
Wellington claimed that after
writing his final exams at the
Royal College of Surgeons in
Ireland in May 2009, he wrote
the Ministry of Public Admin-
istration, which managed the
Government scholarship pro-
gramme at the time.
He said that he received no
response and after several
months he decided to contact
the ministry via telephone.
Wellington claimed that
he was informed that he
could not be offered a job
as he had not immediately
returned to T&T upon the
completion of his degree.
Wellington admitted that
after graduating, he married a
classmate and accepted a po-
sition at the same hospital in
Ireland where she was work-
ing at. In 2012, Wellington and
his wife migrated to Australia,
where he is currently special-
ising in paediatrics.
While being questioned by
Lesley Ann Lucky-Samaroo,
the ministry's lawyer, Welling-
ton said that he was informed
by the ministry's representa-
tives that they had not received
his earlier letter and he failed
to resend the document.
"I was told that I would not
be offered a job and that pre-
vious letter was irrelevant,"
Pressed on whether the un-
delivered letter stated that he
was ready and willing to return
to T&T to complete his contrac-
tual obligation of mandatory
Government service, Wellington
admitted it did not.
Lucky-Samaroo said: "Were
you aware that you had to come
back to T&T for immediate
placement in the Ministry of
"I did have reason to doubt
that," Wellington responded.
Throughout his cross-ex-
amination Wellington repeat-
edly defended his method of
reporting to the ministry.
"If I had no intention of com-
ing back, I would not have made
the phone call and be now in-
curring $3 million worth of
debt," he said.
Making brief submissions in
the case, Wellington's lawyer,
Ravi Heffes-Doon, said there
was no requirement in the con-
tract for his client to report to
the Ministry in person.
"An ordinary reasonable per-
son would have made a phone
call," Heffes-Doon said.
He also said there can only be
a breach of the contract if Wel-
lington had refused an offer of
employment from the Ministry,
which he did not as he was never
offered. Heffes-Doon also said
even if there was an obligation
to return in person, a breach of
contract was not a foreseeable
consequence by failing to ad-
here to it.
The Ministry filed the lawsuit
early last year as it claimed that
he owed $1,734,994.30 which
was expended by the Govern-
ment on Wellington's tuition
and living expenses in addi-
tion to $1,328,764.64 in interest
calculated at the rate of 7.75 per
cent from the date of his grad-
The ministry had initially
obtained a default judgement
against Wellington after he
failed to appear in person for
the case in March last year.
However, the Court of Appeal
reversed the decision and sent
the matter back to Kangaloo for
Attorneys for Wellington and
the ministry are to file their
written submissions in the case
by the end of next month and
will reappear before Kangaloo
to present oral submissions on
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