JIS News

The Government’s mental health reform plan is now being implemented on a phased basis in all regions across the island, Minister of Health, Horace Dalley has informed.
Making his contribution to the 2006/07 Sectoral Debate in the House on September 12, the Minister said that some elements of the reform plan, which is titled, ‘The Development of Community Mental Health Services and De-institutionalisation’ have in fact, been put into practice in the South East, Western, North East and Southern Regional Health Authorities.
“The south east region, which houses the main mental health institution, the Bellevue Hospital, will need to scale up their community mental health activities,” he said, noting further, that the plan is being introduced on a phased basis, “to ensure that all the required services are fully developed and in place, in all regions before full de-institutionalisation”.
The plan, which was approved by Cabinet in March of this year, aims to integrate mental health services with general health services at all levels.
Other objectives of the plan include developing and strengthening outpatient treatment and rehabilitation, as well as assertive and emergency outreach treatment teams around the island; and also developing levels of supportive and supervised living arrangements.
Expounding on the reform plan’s goals, Minister Dalley said that it would strive to “develop and implement mental health promotion and education programmes to build awareness, reduce the prevalence of mental illnesses and reduce stigma”.
“The plan would also seek to relocate services from Bellevue Hospital to the regions, parishes and communities as a means of developing community mental health services and de-institutionalising mental health care,” he added. Mr. Dalley told the House that mental health played a vital role in social and emotional development of the population, and that untreated mental disorders created a burden for families, communities and the workplace.
It is against this background, he noted, that the government, and the Health Ministry in particular, decided to devise a mental health reform plan.
“For many years, we have been reviewing the way we manage and care for persons with mental health conditions.this is another area of health where stigma and discrimination have persisted,” the Minister said.