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Mental-health cases remain high in western Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | December 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

According to Jamaica's National Sustainable Development Plan, Vision 2030, which was published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in 2009, the western region of the Ministry of Health, which includes the parishes of Hanover, St James, Trelawny, and Westmoreland, accounted for 6,848 of the 35,818 psychiatric visits made to the island's health facilities between January and September 2008.

That figure was the second-highest after the South East region, which recorded 17,525. The South East region comprises Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, and St Thomas.

Five years later, the Social and Economic Survey 2014, which was also published by the PIOJ, stated that the cases in the west had risen to 7,312, second again to the South East Region, which totalled 19,141 cases out of 39,033 in the island.

"Mental-health related visits were among the top five reasons for visits to curative health facilities," noted the PIOJ document. "A total of 39,033 clients with psychiatric illnesses visited the health centres, and 2,506 were admitted to hospital."

The document also said mental health was given priority for human resource training and policy development and that quality assurance initiatives were designed to improve community health services in response to mentally ill clients.

"Included was a final draft of the protocol to guide care, restraints used in mental health care, and a trainer for training workshops focused on the human rights of mentally ill persons organised for community mental-health workers. These include the right to better, more accessible care and the right to be reintegrated into society ... ," the document outlined.