About Mental Health

Head of psychiatric department RESPALDO, psychiatrist Hendrikus van Gaalen, hit the alarm button, recently.

News agency Reuters told us on Wednesday that one third of Covid survivors suffer neurological or mental disorders, within six months suggesting the pandemic would trigger a wave of mental problem.

And that was exactly the message van Gaalen set out to deliver.

According to the good doctor RESPALDO saw an increase of clients from 1,400 a year, to 3,000 last year and currently has 8,000 on the waiting list.

He told his audience, local press members and a FB streaming audience, how outrageous it is to send away or put on hold depressed, traumatized, addicted, fearful, stressed, violent, gambling, gaming, suicidal, burned-out insomniacs, of all ages, including children, because the pandemic has deteriorated the public’s mental health, and emptied the treasury.

On World Mental Health Day, Dr. van Gaalen revealed that there was no money for Respaldo, in dire need of more health care professionals, now more than ever.

Corona, he explained, has long and short term effects on health, and all health organizations on the island are backed up, having to delay all treatments, which always worsens the situation.

He doesn’t see how the already bankrupt health care system can further save 60M, from its shoe string budgets.

It is irresponsible, he concluded.

While Respaldo is drowning in clients, van Gaalen called it a TSUNAMI, the house-doctors are overwhelmed, too. And that is where the bottle neck forms, with the house-doctors under pressure from more and more depressed, traumatized, addicted, fearful, stressed, violent, gambling, gaming, suicidal, burned-out insomniacs, of all ages, including children, and all the physicians can do is refer them to Respaldo’s waiting list.

In credit to the organization, average cost of treatment is about Awg 5,000 per person, more efficient than in the Netherlands.

Van Gaalen was mostly concerned about kids, who live in stressed out homes, no work, no food, no money, no help on the way.

He was also concerned with a looming gaming addiction, most prevalent among teens.

That Tsunami of mental health challenges, he was not sure how to help it. Aruba is in danger, he said, ringing the alarm.

We must come up with solutions, or suffer the consequences in the next decades, he warned.

Respaldo is doing its best, but its best in not good enough without resources.

Get vaccinated, he added at the end, it is of outmost importance.

Van Gaalen was followed by Lex de Young, who also described a mental health system in crisis, predicting one in three covid survivors, will encounter mental health challenges.

We’ve had almost ten thousand patients, that translates into 3,000 additional mental sufferers.

With just little money and no treatment, this situation isn’t fixing itself any day soon.

The name Respaldo is a classic Papiamento word and means: “You can count on me; you can expect support from me”. After a competition among the employees, this name was eventually chosen for the foundation. It sounds ironic today.

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April 09, 2021
Rona Coster