Sun | Jan 21, 2018

One child and adolescent psychiatrist in public-health system

Published:Tuesday | April 11, 2017 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Dr Christopher Tufton

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton might have to go cap in hand to the finance ministry for more money to increase the personnel allocated to the Community Mental Health Services.

That is one of the recommendations of the Mental Health and Homeless Task Force, which was established by Tufton last year.

The task force noted that there was no psychiatrist attached to the public-health system in the Southern and North East Regional Health authorities, while despite child abuse being an islandwide problem, only the South East Regional Health Authority, which covers the Corporate Area and St Catherine, has a child and adolescent psychiatrist on staff.

However, Tufton argued that, "For the counselling and so on that is administered to children, there are different professionals located in different parts of the system, like in the CDA (Child Development Agency) and so on which are not under the Ministry of Health who would provide some services."

He added, "We do provide some of those services, too, but we are not the only ministry or portfolio that provides those services. Having said that, it would be good to have more [mental-health staff] and that is all a part of the report and effectively why the task force was set up to provide the guidance that is required. So all recommendations will be examined and determined on, based on resources and what we think will be an ideal situation."


A mental health and homelessness task force established in 2016 by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton lists several recommendations to improve mental health care in Jamaica.

Among the recommendations:

- Develop a cadre of community health aides trained to make regular visits to the homes of vulnerable children.

- Strengthen the community mental-health services.

- Further integrate the mental health services with primary health care.

- Develop a new mental-health law.

- Improve the cadre of psychiatric nursing aides and community health aides trained to intervene and mediate in conflict in order to break the cycle of violence.

- Establish more green safe areas.