Handbook on mental health launched
In commemoration of World Mental Health Day 2014, Dr Fenton Ferguson launched the Healthy Mind, Jamaica's Mental Health Handbook and Directory of Mental Health Services on Friday at the offices of the Pan American Health Organization, University of the West Indies, Mona.
During his address, Dr Ferguson commended the team for the hard work that went into the completion of the handbook and encouraged a wide distribution.
"I am particularly pleased to launch this handbook, it is a watershed moment. I recommend it for the use of all persons who wish to learn more about mental-health issues and services in Jamaica. If we must get the full benefit from this handbook, we need to get it into the hands of the persons who need it the most", he stated.
increase public's awareness
The Healthy Mind, Jamaica's Mental Health Handbook and Directory of Mental Health Services, which looked at three broad areas - Addressing Mental Health and Mental Illness, The Care and Treatment of Mental Illness and The Rights and Responsibilities of Persons living with Mental Illness - was designed to increase the public's awareness of mental-health issues, promote access to care, while emphasising the importance of family and social support, all in an environment that promotes the human rights of persons.
The minister indicated that the issue of mental health remains one of the priorities of the Ministry of Health and called for renewed focus and partnerships to improve the services to Jamaicans who suffers from the illness.
He stated, "It is important that we continue to bring awareness to mental-health issues, which are often misunderstood. Culturally in Jamaica, many times people do not treat persons with mental illness with the dignity they deserve, even when it is a direct family member. We have to chip away at this practice and educate persons about the types of mental illness and how they can affect individuals, as well as the need to provide support."
Dr Ferguson thanked all the partners and NGOs who participated in the launch, and especially thanked the University of the West Indies, the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization for their continued support.
World Mental Health Day 2014 is observed under the theme 'Living with Schizophrenia'.
In recognition of this year's event, the Ministry of Health also collaborated with the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation and conducted a special outreach which targeted homeless mentally ill persons in parish.