Some Recommendations of Mental Health Task Force to Be Implemented This Year

Photo: Dave Reid Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), presents the keys to one of two Toyota Hiace buses donated by the National Health Fund (NHF), to Regional Community Mental Health Supervisor for the Western Region, Jenieth Foster (second right), at the Pharmaceutical Division of the NHF on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston on April 3. Also pictured (from left) are Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett Templer, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHF, Everton Anderson.

Story Highlights

  • Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says some of the recommendations made in a report by the Mental Health and Homelessness Task Force will be implemented this fiscal year.
  • One of the most significant elements of the document to be implemented this fiscal year is a public education campaign geared at the destigmatisation of persons afflicted by mental illness.
  • “The destigmatisation is crucial. We need to convince persons to recognise the illness for what it is and how they can play a role... and for it (campaign) to deal with those who have been abandoned on the streets,” the Minister said.

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says some of the recommendations made in a report by the Mental Health and Homelessness Task Force will be implemented this fiscal year.

The report, received by the Minister in 2016, examines the current status of mental illness in the society, existing methods and techniques of treatment, and proposes new approaches to tackling the ailment.

One of the most significant elements of the document to be implemented this fiscal year is a public education campaign geared at the destigmatisation of persons afflicted by mental illness.

“The destigmatisation is crucial. We need to convince persons to recognise the illness for what it is and how they can play a role… and for it (campaign) to deal with those who have been abandoned on the streets,” the Minister said.

Dr. Tufton pointed out that the big ongoing concern that requires immediate action is the extent to which abandoned mentally challenged persons are left on the streets without treatment, and without any care and attention, despite the efforts of the psychiatric health officers.

The Minister was speaking at a ceremony to hand over two Toyota Hiace buses donated by the National Health Fund (NHF), to the North Eastern Regional Health Authority (NERHA) and the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), at the pharmaceutical division of the NHF on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, on April 3.

The two buses, valued at $15 million, will be used to provide support for community mental health services in the parishes of Portland, Hanover and Westmoreland.

The Minister said another recommendation of the report involves the training of approximately 62 psychiatric nursing aides, in order to “beef up and support the mental health teams already on the streets and in the communities”.

Dr. Tufton informed that active non-profit voluntary organisations will be engaged “to lend greater support to the efforts of public health officers to support those who are on the streets and, in particular, those who are mentally ill”.

The Minister noted that between three and five additional vehicles will also be procured during the year.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NHF, Everton Anderson, commended community health workers out in the field for their efforts in addressing mental health issues, as the situation is “not easy”.

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