The Barriers to Mental Health & The Treatment Services Available for Residents in Bermuda: An Interview With Karla Looby

Karla Looby - BMHF Interview Image Bliss Women.jpg

Photo by Eric Bean 

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month concluded for another year, resulting in more time passing by to cope with the severity of mental health issues in the community. We can not and will not rest the discussion on how mental health should be talked about now more than ever. Karla Looby, Board Director of Bermuda Mental Health Foundation and Mental Welfare Officer in the Community Rehabilitation Services, offered her help to continue the conversation we need to have - not on a monthly basis, but all throughout the year.  


What are some of the most significant barriers to people accessing good mental health care?

There are many barriers as to why people do not access mental health care facilities for treatment; one of the major reasons is Stigma. Stigma is defined as a negative connotation associated with those individuals identified as having a mental health challenge. Stigma is the main reason that many individuals do not seek treatment in Bermuda. They are fearful of family members, friends or even their employers finding out that they have a diagnosis of a mental health challenge and also are receiving treatment for a mental illness.


Do you think people are more open to discussing mental health issues today than they were before? Why or Why not?

I do not feel that most of the people of Bermuda are open to having the discussions about mental illness. Again, the stigma prevents people from even talking about mental illness. The Bermuda Mental Health Foundation has over the last two years, promoted an open discussion about mental health in the Community. We have offered free forums for the public to attend, to share and learn about mental illness while utilising the expertise of presenters, who themselves have either experienced a mental health challenge or individuals who work with people with mental health challenges.  There was a panel discussion held at the BUEI recently to discuss mental health in Bermuda. The panellist represented a cross-section of the business community in Bermuda.


What sort of practical support do women with mental health issues need?

Everyone is suggested to have support at all times when they are faced with a significant life crisis. Someone suffering from a mental health issue benefits from having someone listen to their concerns objectively and to provide feedback, such as putting specific coping strategies in place to assist with their concerns. This type of support over a set period can be sufficient to alleviate stresses and burdens they are facing and eradicate a pending mental health challenge. Supporting individuals during a crisis is very helpful.


Is mental health a common illness in Bermuda? 

Mental Health issues are evident in Bermuda. However, despite the evidence, Unfortunately, we do not have a centralised repository for capturing all mental health statistics in Bermuda whether it is within the mental health institution or the community. However, based on the statistics by the World Health Organization 1 in 4 individuals suffer from a mental health issue in the world.


In your opinion, do women suffer more from mental health issues than men?

There is no evidence to say that women experience mental health challenges more than men. However, women are more likely to seek help when they are experiencing mental health challenges. This will account for the high numbers of women versus men in a mental health service.


What do we need to do as a whole to raise more awareness about mental health? 

There are so many illnesses in the world today that people will readily enquire about and support. Mental illness remains an illness that throughout the years continues to receive minimal support financially and limited advocacy. So, we must continue to talk about mental illness, whether it’s in the workplace, in the homes or even on the streets. We need everyone to know that it is an illness like any other illness and anyone could experience a mental illness at any time in their life.