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JIS News

The Ministry of Health will be undertaking a number of activities to celebrate Mental Health Week from October 9 to 14, under the theme: ‘Building Awareness, reducing risk for mental illness and suicide’.
In an interview with JIS News recently, Director of Mental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Earl Wright, said that this year’s theme not only aimed at creating an awareness of the various mental illnesses, which may lead to suicide, but to focus on creating an awareness that these disorders are recognisable, preventable, and treatable.
Dr. Wright informed that it was necessary to recognise and treat mental disorders in order to reduce the risk of suicide. “In Jamaica we have approximately three per one hundred (persons) committing suicide. The numbers of individuals that commit suicide usually have a mental disorder,” he informed.
Dr. Wright further said that Jamaicans usually associate mental illnesses with schizophrenia, but schizophrenia, in fact, only accounted for approximately10 per cent of individuals who commit suicide. Major depression, he noted, is the major cause of suicide in Jamaica and this accounts for 18 per cent of the general population.
“Since major depression is a common disorder and it can be treated, we have also developed a screening tool, to screen individuals who come to the clinic, the same way an individual who visits the clinic is screened for high blood pressure.similarly it is recommended that persons visiting the clinic be screened for depression, so the identification and early recognition can take place,” he said.
Dr. Wright added that, “we have a number of mental health officers through out the island who attend 300 health centres and at these health centres, they are the specialists under the supervision of a psychiatrists and they treat the most serious disorder, which is schizophrenia and manage the patient at the community level”.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has trained nearly all individuals in the primary health care system to recognise and treat common mental disorders, including major depressive disorders. “Every physician and nurse practitioner is trained to recognise and treat major depressive disorders and schizophrenia,” Dr. Wright explained.
The Health Director further informed that as part of the activities to celebrate Mental Health Week, a number of video presentations, outside broadcasts and discussions at health centres would be conducted throughout the island.
Today (Oct.11) a mini-fair will be held in Falmouth Square, Trelawny, and on Thursday (Oct. 12) there will be a march in Mandeville to highlight mental illnesses and disorders. These activities will continue until Saturday.