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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has called for wider dialogue on the issue of mental health and the search for solutions.
  • He said that society has opted to negate the existence of mental health issues,
  • The symposium featured presentations on aging gracefully and mental disorders, as well as panel discussions featuring wellness, and financial planning.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has called for wider dialogue on the issue of mental health and the search for solutions.

He said that society has opted to negate the existence of mental health issues, “only to have them confront us from time to time with devastating consequences.”

“The search for solutions must therefore also include a search for a better understanding of the manifestations and coping mechanisms,” the Minister stated.

“We need to be in a better place than being petrified or feeling helpless in the midst of challenges or otherwise living in denial when there is stark evidence,” he added.

The Minister’s remarks came in a speech read by Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Dr. Maureen Irons-Morgan, at the World Mental Health Day symposium held at the Jamaica College campus in St. Andrew on Thursday (October 10) under the theme: ‘Growing Older, Growing Stronger: Mental Health and Older People’.

The symposium featured presentations on aging gracefully and mental disorders, as well as panel discussions featuring wellness, financial planning, maintaining psycho spiritual health and fitness, and also the role of the caregiver.

Country Representative for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Margareta Sköld, in her remarks, emphasised the importance of quality mental health care for the elderly, including sustained training and support to health providers and care givers.

“Mental health and emotional well-being are just as important in old age as in any other time of life. Good mental health is essential in being able to participate in and contribute to society,” she stated.

She stated that an increase in social inclusion and participation of older people must be given high priority in order to promote active aging and quality of life in a holistic manner.

“Good general health and social care are important for promoting older people’s health, preventing disease and managing chronic illness,” Miss Sköld said.

She informed that the global population is aging rapidly as it is expected that between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s older adults is estimated to double from about 11 per cent to 22 per cent.

“In absolute terms, this is an expected increase from 605 million today to 2 billion people over the age of 60 by the year 2050. It is projected that the number of persons age 60 or more will triple before 2100,” Miss Sköld said.