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PORT ANTONIO — Increasing incidents of depression leading to acts of suicide, have led mental health facilities to commence a more vigorous campaign to alert persons to the warning signs.

The Portland Community Mental Health Service has established additional rehabilitative methods and revamped its outreach programmes, to sensitize persons and bring awareness to prevent its progression.

Mental Health Officer at the facility, Nurse Juanita Dyer, said the service was established to treat, rehabilitate and prevent mental illnesses, and one main focus is to maintain, treatment and administer follow-up care and rehabilitation in the parish.

“We also respond to emergency situations, such as suicide calls, persons causing disturbances as a result of mental illness and disruptive behaviour in schools,” she said.

Counselling Psychologist with the Portland Community Mental Health Service, Tanisha Wiliams, said there has been marked effect on individuals by the health service.

“Every week we see persons, including children and young people who see no reason for living.   It therefore gives us a fulfilling feeling when a person walk into our office feeling down, and when that person leaves, or a few weeks down the road, you see that person smiling,” she said.

Noting that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which  is also the pre-deciding factor in determining situations such as suicidal tendencies, she pointed out that warning signs of depression includes prolonged periods of sadness, loss of interest in activities individuals would normally be interested in and changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

She has appealed to persons to be wary of these warning signs, and assist others to seek professional help, immediately.

“Sometimes it’s just a listening ear that is needed when individuals are depressed, and when they are able to release that frustration or feeling of sadness, the mind is clearer to think positively,” she explained.

Mrs. Williams went on to outline some of the life events that may lead to depression and cause, both adults and children, to display suicidal tendencies. These include job loss, problematic relationship, socio-economic situations, sexual abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, illnesses, low self esteem, poor parent/child relationship, migrating parents, being bullied at school, learning disability and child abuse.

She added that, on a monthly basis, approximately 350 persons are seen and, of that amount, approximately 80 are children.

“We know there are people out there who have not yet been referred, but we are going to try and reach these persons by our outreach programmes,” she said.

Outlining the methods used to administer care to the affected, she said that group sessions, which were recently introduced, were used to get persons with similar situations to share their experiences, interact with others and realize that they are not alone.

The mental health service has also started a suicide drive, visiting schools, social community groups and persons in the community, where flyers and brochures are handed out to individuals.

“We want persons to be educated so that they can receive the help they need. We even give out our contact numbers to persons whom we believe are most vulnerable,” she explained.

Pointing out that their interventions have resulted in positive results from persons receiving care, she noted that they can visit the clinics at health the facilities, where persons will be assessed and given the required care.

Persons having concerns may contact Mental Health Officer, Juanita Dyer, at 860-2428, Counselling Psychologist, Tanisha Williams at 861-0255, the Port Antonio Hospital at 993-2646-8 and the Port Antonio Health Centre at 993-2557.

                                                                      

By LORNA WILLIAMS, JIS Reporter