Greater emphasis should be placed on prioritising and financing mental health within the region of the Americas.
This was the message from Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, as he addressed the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.
Tufton said funding mental health in the region would be timely and on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly disrupted mental health services while prompting higher rates of anxiety, depression and psychological distress.
Additionally, he noted that Jamaica has endorsed the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) policy for improving mental health and is supporting the resolution for its adoption by the Conference.
“Jamaica commends PAHO for developing the Policy… in consultation with member States,” he said.
“We recognise the five strategic lines of action around which the policy is framed as critical to regional efforts to improve mental health,” he added.
Tufton pointed out that the policy’s strategic lines of action are in keeping with Jamaica’s efforts to advance the national mental health agenda, which he said has admittedly suffered significant setbacks by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The strategic lines of action include building leadership, governance and multi-sectoral partnerships and integrating mental health in all policies; improving the availability, accessibility and quality of community-based services for mental health and substance use; advancing promotion and prevention strategies and activities throughout the life course.
In addition to that, strategic actions will also incorporate reinforcing the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in emergency contexts, strengthening data, evidence and research.
Tufton told the meeting that Jamaica is making best efforts to operate in accordance with those lines of action, including the development of the National Mental Health Strategic Plan (2020-2025).