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    • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Ministry is working to implement a number of intervention strategies to deal with the increase in the number of mental health cases in Western Jamaica.
    • Speaking with journalists following a visit to the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI) Rehabilitation Centre in Montego Bay, St. James, on October 24, Dr. Tufton said data show that mental health cases in the western region rose from 2,000 in 2001 to 6,000 in 2018, which indicates a need to “amplify the responsiveness of the system to treat with that challenge”.
    • “The statistics in these parts (Hanover, Trelawny, St. James and Westmoreland), suggest that more persons are coming forward, which is encouraging, but also indicate the state of the problem of mental illness,” the Minister said.

    Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Ministry is working to implement a number of intervention strategies to deal with the increase in the number of mental health cases in Western Jamaica.

    Speaking with journalists following a visit to the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI) Rehabilitation Centre in Montego Bay, St. James, on October 24, Dr. Tufton said data show that mental health cases in the western region rose from 2,000 in 2001 to 6,000 in 2018, which indicates a need to “amplify the responsiveness of the system to treat with that challenge”.

    “The statistics in these parts (Hanover, Trelawny, St. James and Westmoreland), suggest that more persons are coming forward, which is encouraging, but also indicate the state of the problem of mental illness,” the Minister said.

    Against that background, Dr. Tufton said the Ministry will be increasing the staff complement for mental health professionals in the western region, as part of efforts to “shore up mental health service”.

    “From a policy perspective, we will engage more practitioners in the field – mental health nurses, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and social workers – so people can be reintegrated into the world of work. We are now reviewing that [policy] in order to see where the gaps are and how we can improve that over time. Already, we have started to train some mental health aids to deploy to try and improve that system,” he explained.

    Dr. Tufton noted, further, that the Ministry is progressing with its efforts to end the stigma against mental illness through its ‘Speak Up, Speak Now’ campaign.

    He reiterated that mental illness is “no respecter of persons”, adding that it affects people from various socio-economic backgrounds.

    “There is a new approach and that approach is multiple folds. Firstly, raising the awareness around mental health. I keep saying to people, do not be fooled that mental health is only confined to one category of people… . The key to the approach to dealing with mental health is the ‘destigmatisation’, meaning greater awareness and greater understanding as a basis for people coming forward and for the treatment to be able to take place,” Dr. Tufton emphasised.

    Meanwhile, the Minister called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and communities to collaborate with Government to assist with intervention and support.

    “We have a number of NGOs that currently operate to provide support. In that case, CUMI does that with soup kitchens, and some provide overnight stays. It is going to be important for us to understand that mental health really affects any and everybody, and it requires a community and a national approach to solve the problem. It is not just about the public health system,” he said.