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Dr Colleen Whitney

Dr Colleen Whitney - 2019 Nominee
Position: General Practitioner and Resident Psychiatrist
Organization: Ministry of Public Health Guyana
Current Location: Guyana, South America
Medical degree from Hospital Calixto Garcia
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Currently I am completing a MSc Psychiatry
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Women Deliver Conference on Gender Equality Scholarship Recipient 2019
    Awarding Organization:
    Women Deliver Conference Committee
    Date Awarded:
    December 21, 2018
  • Award:
    Participant in 13th Caribbean Institute inGender and Development Studies
    Awarding Organization:
    The Institute for Gender and Development Studies : Nita Barrow Unit, UWI, Cavehill, Barbados
    Date Awarded:
    March 5, 2019
  • Award:
    Certificate of Appreciation
    Awarding Organization:
    SRHR Adventures
    Date Awarded:
    April 7, 2019
Is an advocate for persons living with mental disorders, often collaborating with OB/GYNs to ensure women and their families have the best care despite any psychiatric diagnosis (i.e. psychotic, mood disorders) made before, during or after pregnancy. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

My work in family planning is done in collaboration with our Gynaecology and Obstetrics professional since most of the clients are seen through referral before, during or after pregnancy with diagnosis like post partum depression, substance abuse in pregnancy, psychosis in pregnancy, suicide attempt in pregnancy etc. Clients seen in the Psychiatric clinic are many times desirous of becoming pregnant but scared because of medication use knowing the risk of birth defects and we are tasked with finding the best solution for each person as there is no one size fits all. I have also partnered with SRHR with Dr Pat to share information on mental health.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Personal experience as the first of six children to a mother who had to leave school as a teenager to become a mother with little or no guidance. This is a right for all that continues to have stigma attached as to how much information must be provided to young girls. The knowledge has to be imparted early. I have focused on family planning in clients with mental disorders because many ignore their need for wanting a family or even thinking about sex.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

The issue of persons living with mental disorders and their sexual and reproductive health and rights are not discussed in many health forums in Guyana. For this reason I see myself as a leader representing this specific group. They are simply told to not have sex in many clinics or not to have relationships. I have taken an approach to work with the clients in collaboration with their OBGYN, partner, family, psychologist, social worker and other relevant persons to provide solution.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

I will use tis win to give a voice to the work that I have already started so silently in my clinic. The grant will give me the financial resource I need to start my own SRHR that deals with persons living with mental disorders and family of persons living with mental disorders in Guyana.

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