JIS News

The Government is seeking to equip and transform the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston and psychiatric wards of the country's hospitals into centres that can best care for the mentally ill.

This was noted by Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, at the World Mental Health Day conference on October 10, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston. The conference was held under the theme: 'Depression: A Global Crisis'.

"Our goal is to maintain a comprehensive, multifaceted treatment programme that revolves around: continuity of care; group and family therapy; environmental and social support and intervention; and community participation, support and control,” the Minister explained.

He reaffirmed the Government's commitment to addressing the issue of the modernisation of the mental health services, to make them more relevant to the times.

"It is clear that the new focus has to be geared towards a greater emphasis on care in the community as opposed to institutionalisation,” he said. Dr. Ferguson added however, that there will always be a need for institutionalisation of some patients.

The Minister informed that several policies and protocols have recently been developed that are integral to improving the quality of mental health care. These include: a guideline for the management of psychiatric emergencies was developed and distributed earlier this year; standardised restraints were purchased for use in hospitals and for emergencies in communities; and four buses were purchased for the community service.

Dr. Ferguson also noted that the National Mental Health Policy and the Mental Health Legislation are undergoing revision; and a mental health handbook will be launched soon.

Some of the issues examined at the conference were: ‘Depression in children’; ‘The economic impact of depression’; ‘Depression in a recession’; ‘Depression in chronic diseases and the elderly’; ‘Depression in care givers of the mentally ill’; and ‘Counselling tips in depression’.