Health Minister Encourages ‘Cultural Shift’ in Society’s Treatmemt of Mentally Ill Persons

Photo: Dave Reid Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, addresses journalists at a post-Sectoral Debate press briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston head office on Wednesday (June 6). Looking on is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Sancia Templer.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called for a “cultural shift” in how persons with mental illness are treated in the society.
  • He said a significant number of persons suffer from mental illness, noting that many of them are often ignored by families and the wider community because of the stigma associated with the disorder.
  • “We need to create greater awareness. People need to understand that mental illness is not condemnation to a place of no return,” the Minister said.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called for a “cultural shift” in how persons with mental illness are treated in the society.

He said a significant number of persons suffer from mental illness, noting that many of them are often ignored by families and the wider community because of the stigma associated with the disorder.

“We need to create greater awareness. People need to understand that mental illness is not condemnation to a place of no return,” the Minister said.

He was speaking at a post-Sectoral Debate press briefing at the Ministry’s head office in New Kingston on Wednesday (June 6).

Dr. Tufton said he was “disturbed” by reports emerging over recent months about the number of young Jamaicans committing suicide, noting that this has been linked, in part, to some state of mental disorder.

As such, he encourages school administrators and teachers, as well as civil society stakeholders, to pay attention to variations in behavioural patterns that may be exhibited by children and adults, and treat with these in a manner that reflects efforts to better understand the situation arising.

Dr. Tufton underscored that the stigma associated with the mental disorder must be removed, as it is tantamount to “rejection and abandonment” of the affected persons, who, he said, can be treated, thereby enabling them to return to a normal life.

He assured that mental illness, which is regarded as a non-communicable disease, is being given focused attention by the Ministry.

The interventions include the Ministry’s strengthening of the community mental health system, through increased services and the provision of additional facilities, which resulted from the Government’s commissioning of a Mental Illness and Homelessness Report.

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