KINGSTON — World Mental Health Week will be observed in Jamaica October 9 to 14, under the theme, "The Great Push: Investing in Mental Health."
The Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) will be hosting activities across the parishes of Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and Manchester during the week. Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Karen Elliott, says these activities are geared to sensitizing and educating the public about mental health issues.
“The main focus of this year’s activities is to promote the awareness of mental health issues, to reduce the stigmatization associated with such issues and to sensitize persons in the region about the importance of maintaining good mental health,” she said.
On Sunday (October 9) a regional church service will be held at the Santa Cruz New Testament Church of God, St. Elizabeth, starting at 11:00 a.m., to herald the start of World Mental Health Week 2011.
There will also be a workshop on October 10, at the Mandeville Hotel beginning at 5:30 p.m. It will be geared to health professionals, but will also encourage the participation of community businesses.
Speaking with JIS News, Nurse Elliott said that health professionals in the southern region are not the only targets for the week.
“The agency has sought partnerships with businesses within the region, and all such companies are being encouraged to invest in mental health,” she said.
Mental health is not selective to any specific age group, and so the youth is also targeted. As a consequence, one of the scheduled activities is a debate competition for “schoolers”, with the moot being, “Once yuh mad, yuh dun fah!”Debates will be held on October 12 and 13 in St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and Manchester.
Psychiatrist, Dr. Doreth Garvey, has noted that students preparing to participate in the debates will receive valuable information on helping to prevent mental health issues. Displays will be mounted at health facilities and parish libraries in the three parishes, for public awareness and information, October 12 and 13.
Additionally, talks on mental health will be conducted in selected schools in the targeted parishes.
The week of activities will culminate on October 14, with a grand walkathon in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, which will begin at 8:30 a.m.
By Toni-Ann Russell, JIS PRO