Stichting Hunto: Drastic increase in treatment for depression and anxiety among the youth

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Stichting Hunto (Together Foundation) is a relatively new foundation established last October. Stichting Hunto is a cooperation between the organizations SPD (Social-Psychiatric Department) and FMAA (Foundation for the management of Addiction), trough which issues of addiction will be managed and through which basic psychiatric care will be afforded to children and teenagers.

Arthur Comenencia, director of Centro Colorado (of FMAA) explained in an interview with our reporter that according to their annual numbers, they noted a drastic increase in treatment for mental health, particularly for depression and anxiety among young people. Substance use, for example marihuana, also registered a drastic increase because of the Covid pandemic.

“There is great demand, and we are busy expanding the help we can provide. For this reason we united, so that when a client approaches us, through a triage system the client receives faster help for his needs. He is evaluated to see if he needs psychiatric help, be it from the children or adults psychiatrist”, Comenencia indicated.

Regarding the problem of homeless addicts, which quietly remains a big issue in Aruba, Comenencia explained that the Ministry of Justice established interference care, consisting of a special team that approaches the addicts, the clients, to offer help and see if they want to accept this. Once they accept the help they go to an walk-in center in Meiveld, known popularly as Samba, and there they begin the trajectory to prepare for rehabilitation.

“There is a special team that goes on the streets every day to speak to the clients, but it’s the clients themselves who need to decide to accept the help. Once they accept, a special team brings them to the walk-in center, where they go every day to receive their meals and to begin the preparation phase with a psychiatrist so that they can enter the rehabilitation center”, Comenencia explained.

There is still some taboo regarding the topic of mental health and addiction in Aruba, however, little by little this is being eliminated. Through talks organized by Stichting Hunto, they try to bring to light the efforts of the team of mental health and addiction.

“We get a lot of calls from schools, a lot of calls from companies, to start a conversation regarding addiction and mental health. Addiction and mental health cannot be separated from each other. Psychiatry falls together with addiction. And we receive a lot of calls from schools and workplaces also to bring information and let them know of the process they need to start in order to receive help, for the people who need it.”

For the next year, Stichting Hunto has very big plans, according to Comenencia. They are working on renovations for a more modern Centro Colorado. Comenencia explained that they also have the building situated behind the Pius X School in Dakota, where they will have a specialized clinic in order to provide treatment for children as well as adults. People can arrive at this center to receive treatment, and if they need to enter rehabilitation, they are then sent to Centro Colorado.

“These are the plans that Stichting Hunto has. But also to change the way of thinking in the community regarding psychiatry and addiction”, Comenencia said.