We are all here because we are not all there – Bel Esprit reaches out to the distressed
An abundance of Esprit de Corps was in the air this week with the official opening of Windhoek’s first private mental institution, the Bel Esprit mental health hospital.
Shortly before cutting the ribbon, guest of honour, Deputy Minister Julieta Kavetuna of Health and Social Services, said the biggest challenge to improve mental health is in overcoming perceptions of stigma and misunderstanding.
“We need to reach a point where the general public understands the nature of mental illness – the more we do that, the better diagnosis, treatment and social attitudes we will get,” she said.
Bel Esprit’s Clinical Director, Dr Ndjaba commented that since there is no stigmatisation of physical illness, there should be no reason to treat mental disorder any differently. She related the story of Phillipe Pinel, a physician who realised 200 years ago that mental patients must be liberated both from physical chains and from degrading perceptions. “Let us break these chains even further by recognising mental illness, accepting the fact that it is real, pledging our support and getting rid of stigmas. We are here to help and welcome all with open arms at Bel Esprit,” she said.
The hospital’s Chief Executive, Ms Charine Glen-Spyron, said the concept could not be turned into reality without the support of investors, family and friends. For the official opening, the representatives of Vista Private Psychiatric Clinic in South Africa donated a bell, which symbolises the breaking of the chains associated with mental illness. Bel Esprit operates in association with the South African clinic.
After welcoming the guests, Operations Director, Ms Verona du Preez advocated for mental health as a discipline to be included in conventional health services. The Deputy Minister summed it up neatly saying “There is no health without mental health.”
Caption: Bel Esprit’s officials, Charine Glen-Spyron and Verona du Preez, on the left, celebrating the opening of Windhoek’s first private mental health facility with the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Hon Julieta Kavetuna, and the new hospital’s Clinical Director, Dr Ndjaba.