Drastic change needed in treatment for the mentally ill
The number of mentally ill people in Jamaica will continue to increase.

Dear Editor,

Over the past few years, Jamaica has seen a rapid increase in the number of people between the ages of 20 to 40 years suffering from mental illness.

Therefore, people within the health department need to be adequately trained to manage individuals suffering from this disease. Family members and friends also need to take the time out to educate themselves on the subject in order better care for loved ones if they get sick from mental illness.

More people are showing up in our health sector with mental issues and several times their loved ones don't know how to give care to these individuals. Sometimes they are abandoned by family members not because of lack of love, but they are scared of the outcome and uncertain of what to expect, hence ditching him/her is the quickest and easiest solution.

There are several studies online about mental health issues and how to deal with a person who is suffering from mental illness.

As a country, especially during this time when a lot of people have difficulty surviving due to the austere economic climate as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic and poor planning on the part of various government administrations, we must prepare ourselves for a continuous increase in the number of people who will fall prey to the pressures and develop mental illness.

Jamaica is not unique in this because in the United States there are millions of people who are suffering from this disease, but the difference is that in the US there are more than adequate resources to deal with these individuals.

Currently, Jamaica has only one dedicated institution to cater to the mentally ill in the form of the Bellevue Hospital, which is understaffed; at times, overpopulated; and in need of a serious upgrade. It is high time for this facility to be upgraded and for another to be opened in the western region to cater to people in that area.

The Government must begin to plan for tomorrow in this area. We can't wait until our streets are flooded with “mad people” before we act.

While speaking to a nurse recently on the subject and how the health sector is affected, she said that most times, it is some small thing that causes a person to have a chemical imbalance in their brain and if it is identified quickly, that individual can get help and with proper supervision they can live normally on or off medication for the rest of their life.

In my opinion, trust is one of the biggest causes of mental illness. Many times people are afraid of talking to someone about their problems because they fear that their confidence will be betrayed. Because of that, problems are bottled up inside and get to a stage where they start to affect behaviour and mental well-being. There are other causes such as drugs and traumatic experiences, such as child abuse.

Jamaica needs to make a drastic shift in how it treats with mental disease. Greater access to resources — facilities and trained personnel — is required.

Rashford Dinham


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