NASSAU, Bahamas — The Ministry of Labour and Social Development held a one-day symposium for a cross-section of “gatekeepers” who work with families to explore the emotional, social, spiritual and physical aspects of wellness.


The symposium, geared at helping them to better assist families in attaining optimum health was held at Holy Cross Anglican Church Parish Hall last week.


Minister of State for Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner explained that it was important to have the symposium during this critical time when many are going through a period of economic distress.


Mrs. Turner said, “On a global level these are extremely challenging times.  Catastrophic job losses and mortgage defaults have exponentially compounded our everyday problems and threatened our lifestyles and coping mechanisms.  The Bahamas has been impacted in all of the aforementioned areas.


“In these times, the cost of maintaining our physical and mental health has increased.  However, the price the individual and society pays far exceeds treatment costs.  We must incorporate measures to prevent deterioration of our health.  Wellness should therefore, be a critical goal for the Bahamian community.”


She said many have embraced the challenge to pursue wellness and when individuals take care of their body and mind, they stand a much better chance of being happy and satisfied with their lives than when they do not.


However, Mrs. Butler-Turner noted that this must not be left to the individual alone, for while a strong sense of self is important, it is not sufficient to achieve a healthy country.


She said, “Efforts must be made to incorporate the family in our endeavour to attain a well balanced nation.  The family is the basic unit of society that meets ones psychological needs; providing nurturing, intimacy, and social learning; and, conveys values, morals, spiritual and religious beliefs.”


The Minister added that these principles produce healthy families and consequently a healthy nation.


“We must incorporate measures to prevent deterioration of our health.  Wellness should therefore, be a critical goal for the Bahamian community.”


She said emotional health does not always mean being positive and free of negative thoughts.


“Instead, this pertains to our ability to name, understand and handle our feelings, whatever they may be,” she said.  “It is imperative that we learn to deal with the inevitable challenging situations in a healthy manner.”


Mrs. Butler-Turner noted that relationships are also integral to everyone’s wellbeing. 


She explained that persons need to feel connected to others who share their joy and comfort them during difficult times.  “When we are socially well, we know how to positively nurture and be nurtured by other individuals and groups.”


Mrs. Butler-Turner said spiritual wellness anchors individuals to belief systems that provide a sense of meaning and purpose, which gives everyone a firm foundation for healthy interaction.


Physical wellness involves a variety of activities that support wellbeing.  “Habits such as eating a healthy diet, participating in regular exercise and physical activities, foster a healthy body that is able to operate at its optimum level,” the Minister said.


“A consistent, holistic, multi-systemic approach to family wellness is paramount if we hope to develop healthy, well balanced families and by extension, a healthy, a well balanced nation.


She said, “I commend the extraordinary partnership demonstrated by your presence here today and continued effort to help families and the community achieve wellness.”


Coordinator of Health Social Services Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson said the Ministry hopes to partner with civic and religious organisations to plan other such symposiums for the general public over the next six months.


Speakers at the event included Director of the Renascence Institute Int’l Ltd., Dr. David Allen; Medical Chief of Staff, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, Dr. Nelson Clarke; President, The Bahamas Christian Council, Rev. Patrick Paul; Assistant Curate, St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Rev. Angela Palacious; Cardiothoracic, Dr. Duane Sands; Medical Officer, Dr. Pearl McMillan; Director, Department of Social Services, Ms. Mellany Zonicle and Financial Consultant, Glen Ferguson.


Representatives from a cross section of governmental agencies and civic and religious organisations also attended the symposium including the Department of Social Services, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Her Majesty’s Prison, the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, the Public Health Authority, the Princess Margaret Hospital, The College of The Bahamas, The National Drug Council, the AIDS Secretariat, the SCAN Unit the Crisis Centre, Urban Renewal and faith based and community organisations.







NASSAU, The Bahamas — Minister of State for Labour and Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner opens the Symposium on Strengthening the Family: A Holistic Approach to Family Wellness at the Holy Cross Anglican Church Parish Hall, Thursday, February 19.  (BIS photo/Patrick Hanna)