JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says during the next fiscal year, renewed focus and emphasis will be placed on addressing areas within the health sector, particularly mental health.
  • Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization is a ‘state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.
  • The Minister said the issue of mental health requires a comprehensive and united approach, pointing out that involvement from every segment of society is essential for interventions to work.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says during the next fiscal year, renewed focus and emphasis will be placed on addressing areas within the health sector, particularly mental health.

“I expect that this year’s budget will be considerably more favourable than past years and the health sector in general will be better represented, so we can address some of the gaps that exist in every area, including mental health,” he said.

The Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony for a scientific conference at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge in Kingston, today (February 6).

Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization is a ‘state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

The Minister said the issue of mental health requires a comprehensive and united approach, pointing out that involvement from every segment of society is essential for interventions to work.

He informed that in October last year the World Health Assembly approved the comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan at the Directing Council, held in September 2014. The plan takes a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach, through coordinated services from the health and social sectors, with an emphasis on promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, care and recovery.

Dr. Ferguson said that Jamaica’s approach to mental health is in line with this, and as such, the Government will continue to ensure, through the Bellevue Hospital, that opportunities are provided for patients and former patients to be economically and socially productive.

“In addition, our overall approach combines institutionalization with efforts to re-integrate persons into their communities and place them back with family,” he noted.

As it relates to stigma and discrimination, the Minister said these need to be addressed if the issue of mental health is to be properly addressed.

“We have to work very hard to chip away at the stigma attached to mental illness as this is a considerable barrier to any intervention that we seek to put in place to provide services for mentally ill patients and ensure that they are able to be reintegrated into society,” he said.

In the meantime, the Minister said family physicians represent one of the most important stakeholders in the thrust to re-integrate mentally ill persons in their communities, and dealing with the stigma and discrimination associated with this condition.

The World Health Organization estimates that 14 per cent of the global burden of disease is attributed to mental health conditions.

Dr. Ferguson said figures show that one in five or 20 per cent of Jamaicans is affected by mental illness.

The three-day conference is hosted by the Caribbean College of Family Physicians under the theme: ‘Family Physicians: Integrating Mental Health Care into Family Practice’. The conference is scheduled to end on February 8.

 

Skip to content