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Mentally ill not getting required attention - CUMI

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry
Joy Crooks

Western Bureau:

Nurse Joy Crooks, the administrator of the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), says that less talk and more action is needed if the country is serious about fixing the problem of mentally ill persons roaming the nation's streets in increasing numbers.

Speaking at CUMI's annual general meeting in Montego Bay earlier this week, Crooks said that the Ministry of Health and the relevant authorities have failed to implement recommendations and to provide the required resources to effectively aid psychiatric and community mental health care.

"Community mental health is in its 15th year, and while the MOH has taken away the old practice of institutionalising people, the problem is they now put the care on the Department of Psychiatry in the general settings of the hospital but have not put in what is needed to accommodate it in place," said Crooks, who founded the 25-year-old non-governmental organisation based in the Second City.

Crooks also pointed out that the sector is currently in dire need of mental-health social workers and officers, satellite clinics and intermediate care facilities, crisis response teams, increased medication and psychiatric aid, among other resources, "and because of that, it is becoming burdensome on the existing structure that is there to deliver proper service".

"One hand can't clap. Community mental health cannot work until the main master service provider does their part. So instead of talking about recommendations, why not start implementing them."

She pointed out that inaction by the relevant authorities also discourages families that want to help their loved ones, but the support is lacking.

The administrator said that CUMI has been doing all it can, with its limited resources, having catered to close to 3,000 clients during the period 2015 to 2016. Currently, the mental health institution has 25 clients.