Staff of the Community Mental Health Services toured sections of Kingston and St Andrew, starting in Seaview Gardens, teaching the public about mental health and how to prevent mental illness.
They handed out flyers and had question-and-answer sessions with curious passers-by yesterday, which was observed as World Mental Health Day. The theme was ‘Depression: A Global Crisis’.
Nurse Karen Grant-White, mental health practitioner for zones three and four, said this was the first time a float was being used to spread the message.
“We wanted to do something different for mental health this year,” she said. “The service has evolved over the years. Since the closure of the outpatient section at the Bellevue Hospital, you find a lot more patients coming to us.”
Members of the team monitor patients discharged from the hospitals and do crisis intervention for very ill patients whose families can’t manage them.
“If they will accept treatment voluntarily, then we can treat them. If not, then we have to take them to an institution to administer care,” Grant-White said.
She noted they do many home visits, which can be difficult depending on the terrain.
SERIES OF ACTIVITIES
The parade covered areas such as Penwood Road, Three Miles, Spanish Town Road and ended at the Maxfield Park Health Centre. But Grant-White explained that it started in Seaview because the community has a number of mentally ill clients. Today, the group will host a health fair, and tomorrow, there will be a ‘community blitz’.
“What we term the community-engagement model is what we will be utilising. We’re trying to bond the community with the mentally ill clients. We’re trying to teach them how to take care of the mentally ill and let them know the benefits of taking care of these persons,” Grant-White said.
She noted that the stigma against mental illness was still a serious hindrance and that people needed to be better informed.
“Not many Jamaicans know that as long as you have a family member with mental illness, you are at risk because it is in your genes,” she said. “So we have to make more Jamaicans aware of how to promote their mental health and to try and decrease the stigma.”
Grant-White opined that increased investment in mental health would lower the crime rate.