Senators hail World Mental Health DaySunday, October 10, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Two Senators, from either side of the aisle, have called on Jamaicans to work together to remove the stigma of poor mental health in the society, and allow the community to celebrate their personal growth.
Government senator, Dr Saphire Longmore and Opposition member Senator Janice Allen, made the call in statements to the Senate on Friday, in recognition of today's celebration of World Mental Health Day.
Dr Longmore urged Jamaicans with mental health issues to make use of the COVID-19 pandemic promoted possibilities, which offer chances for personal growth and opportunities to recognize themselves while continually developing to reach their her full potential.
“Set your goals. Set your objectives. Let us seek out opportunities to pursue and enable each Jamaican to develop an intrinsic value of self, and strive to make mental health equal in an unequal world,” Longmore told the Senate.
Meanwhile, Senator Allen said she would welcome the day when there is no stigma attached to mental health in the society.
“We must get people to a place where legislation or policy in our work space will make it very easy and without stigma to for people to seek help, so that they are not ostracised, when they come out and speak to the concerns and the issues they are working with, and living with,” Allen said.
Senator Longmore, who is also the president of the Jamaica Psychiatric Association (JPA), raised the issue on the motion for adjournment of Friday's meeting of the Senate.
She said that mental health is now on everybody's mind, as the pandemic has impacted the world in many ways, and mental health has become “particularly paramount”, raising the likelihood that the next pandemic could be a mental health one.
She said that throughout this week a number of activities will take place, under the auspices of the regional health authorities, and schedules are available to public, including on the JPA social media pages.
She stated that COVID-19 has brought on an increase in substance abuse, as well as increases in incidents of anxiety, depression, as well as the period when the highest rates of mental health correlated to the intensity of COVID-19 deaths, leaving communities affected by the “grief and loss” associated with it.
“Across countries, the mental health of unemployed people and those experiencing financial insecurity are worst, especially for the general population,” she noted, pointing to a trend which pre-dated the pandemic but seemed to have accelerated in some cases,
She commended the Ministry of Health and Wellness for having responded to the acceleration threat, after their data reflected an increase in the need for telemedicine services, including the introduction of a new help line, 211, for children, who are “particularly vulnerable” at this time.
She said that the JPA has been formulating responses as best it can, and has been getting several requests for seminars and talks, which has influenced the body in producing videos, “and we have been doing these and posting them on our social media pages”.
“Because of the number of requests we said, you know what, let us create these videos. Let us put these videos out there, so that people can access them at any time” she said. She added that the JPA has also introduced a new approach, the Biopsychosocial-spiritual assessment, which is a holistic approach to understanding the client's experiences, including his or her physical and mental health.
Senator Longmore also urged the public to ensure that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, especially elderly people.
“At this time that we are driving so hard with vaccines let us make sure that, especially persons who may be inclined to Alzheimer's Disease, consider focusing and making sure that elderly persons within our care are vaccinated at this time and I implore us to get the vaccines out to those people,” she said.
Senator Allen noted that in balancing their lives, the stress and deaths, as well as the economic impact of the pandemic have made life, “a little too much to bear for many of us”.
“I therefore look forward to the day when Jamaica is truly the place that will allow people to speak freely of their mental health and mental uncertainties at different times,” Allen said.