JIS News

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  • Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, is urging Jamaicans to make mental health a top priority.
  • He made the call on October 7, as he read the proclamation declaring October 9 2015 as World Mental Health Day in Jamaica, during a ceremony at King’s House.
  • The Governor-General urged government and non government agencies to work in concert to increase public awareness about and acceptance of mental illnesses and the people living with these disorders.

Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, is urging Jamaicans to make mental health a top priority.

He made the call on October 7, as he read the proclamation declaring October 9 2015 as World Mental Health Day in Jamaica, during a ceremony at King’s House.

“I urge all citizens to join and support the national organisations that are working to make mental health a priority in communities across Jamaica. Together, we will all make a difference and promote mentally health citizens,” he said.

The Governor-General urged government and non government agencies to work in concert to increase public awareness about and acceptance of mental illnesses and the people living with these disorders.

“Increased investment in mental health in the form of personnel, health systems and community support services would significantly alleviate the suffering of persons with mental illness and improve their quality of life. We need to look at how we can address the situation because we want to see everyone prosperous and in good health mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Our health is the most precious gift that can be given to us,” he stated.

The Governor-General expressed confidence in the ability of the country’s mental health sector to effectively treat and care for those persons affected by mental disorders.

“We have the capacity to address and the expertise to handle the challenges associated with mental health illness and this is what mental health awareness in Jamaica is all about,” he said.

The Ministry of Health will join the rest of the world in marking World Mental Health Day in recognition of this important aspect of health.

As part of the observance, a conference will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m under the theme: ‘Dignity in Mental Health.’

Conference participants will examine mental health from the perspective of individuals, families, and health care providers; the role of legislation in protecting dignity in mental health; and treating mental health in the medical profession.

Speakers at the event include Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson with presentations from Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding; Education Minister,  Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites; as well as representatives from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry, Dr. Judith Leiba, said that patients affected by mental illness have a “double burden” that they bear.

“They have to deal with the disease that they have and they also have to try to hide it and pretend to be normal. That is why it is so important that the theme for mental illness for this year be promulgated and promoted and dissected and disseminated,” she said.

“We would like them (people with mental illness) to be treated with dignity, respect, in confidentiality and privacy in acknowledgement of all of their human rights,” she argued.

Mental illness is the second leading cause of the burden of disease in the world.

The most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in Jamaica are depression and schizophrenia.