PRESIDENT OF the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr Aggrey Irons, wants more to be done to improve the lives of persons affected by depression.
"Depression is as large a drain on the human economy and spirit as any other identifiable condition and, indeed, seems to complicate all of life's negative experiences," said Irons during the World Mental Health Day conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
"And so we need to, therefore, invest in new therapeutic modalities that will more significantly address depression and its fatal outcomes.
"There needs to be a massive reconstruction of the world's mental and physical environment, along with social and emotional reconnections of the individual, to self, to family and society, so that, indeed, we will one day be able to say of depression that we have it under control," he told the gathering on Wednesday.
confront the reality
Dr Rosemarie Wright-Pascoe, chairperson of the national committee on non-communicable diseases, said studies have shown that there are some 500,000 persons in Jamaica who have mental-health disorders. To this end, she commended the mental-health committee for hosting the conference.
"There is a stigma against depression and this leads to consequences. We reject people who have depression. We avoid depression and this stigma can lead to low rates of health-seeking behaviour by our patients with depression, lack of access to care, and under-treatment," Wright-Pascoe lamented.
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson said there is a need to confront the reality of depression and a number of other mental illnesses.
"There is a persistent stigma attached to mental illnesses which needs to be removed if the problem is to be addressed effectively. Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden disease," he said.
He said with the need for institutionalisation of some patients, the goal is to transform and equip the Bellevue Hospital and psychiatric wards of hospitals into centres that can best care for the mentally ill.
"Our goal is to maintain a comprehensive, multifaceted treatment programme that revolves around continuity of care, group and family therapy, environmental and social support and intervention, as well as community participation, support and control," he added.