JIS News

Mental health patients, caregivers and support staff of the Portland Health Services, yesterday (December 15) came together to celebrate and honour outstanding service, at a Christmas treat and awards ceremony held at the Port Antonio Hospital.
The function was organised by the Community Mental Health Team to show recognition and appreciation to the patients and their caregivers, for complying with their treatment regime, and for the support staff, who have served the team professionally over the past year in executing their duties.
Giving the main address at the function, Mayor of Port Antonio Councillor Floyd Patterson, commend the staff for their level of professionalism and for the love and care that they display to their patients.
Stating that they were doing “an excellent job” in the mental health programme of the parish, he said this was evident based on the reduced number of mentally ill persons seen on the streets.
Pointing out that a failed society sometimes contributes to mental illness, he urged everyone to “demonstrate the Christ in Christmas,” adding that the simple things such as “a hug, a hello, or even listening to their concerns, will demonstrate love and show appreciation to them.”
Mental Health Officer at Portland Health Services, Stedman Lawson, said that as part of the outreach programme, mental health talks are conducted at schools, churches, senior citizens clubs, youth clubs, and service clubs.
According to him, the treatment regime has impacted positively on the patients as “most of our clients are doing very well. They run healthy families, travel overseas on the work exchange programme, go to school and lead normal lives.”
Noting that the stigma attached to mental illness has prevented many persons from seeking treatment, Mr. Lawson said “if they come in for treatment, overtime, they will realise that they will get great benefit from it.”
Counselling Psychologist for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department, Tanisha Williams, noted that a “dynamic approach” has been taken to the care of young patients. “We do not only see the children in clinics, we have individual counselling sessions, as well as a summer mentorship programme for boys. We instill positive values for them to emulate, and .we will expose them to other individuals in their environment who have positive messages for them to model,” she said.
She commended the supporting agencies such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Child Development Agency, the police and the Victims Support Programme for working closely with her team in providing some of the additional services needed by the patients.
Speaking with JIS News, a beneficiary of the Community Mental Health Services, said he was happy for the care received. “I usually felt sad and depressed, but as time went by, I began to feel better about myself.”
He thanked the staff for showing him love, and for the professional manner in which they execute their duties.
There are a total of 10 clinic locations across the parish with approximately 500 mental health patients.