JIS News

The Ministry of Health is working with a number of parish development committees and non-governmental organizations to establish mental health advocacy groups islandwide.
Minister of Health, Horace Dalley who made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2007/08 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 19), said that the association with these groups will provide for the establishment of drop in centres and other services for the mentally ill.
According to the Health Minister, many Jamaicans are still of the view that mental illness is caused by obeah or demonic possession and as such, a mental health programme is underway to reduce the stigma associated with the illness, as well as to raise awareness among the population about the different types of mental disorders and places persons can visit to get treatment.
Mr. Dalley in the meantime, reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to providing community-based services for the mentally ill. “Persons who suffer from mental illness do better with family support and therefore treating these individuals close to their communities and homes ensure better outcomes,” he noted.
He pointed out that while de-institutionalization remains the policy of the Ministry, institutions in the South East Regional Authority and the Bellevue Hospital will not be closed, but will continue to provide services for patients.
The Health Minister informed that an additional 81 psychiatric aides were trained last year, who were deployed mainly in the southern and south east regions.

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