CHILD AND adolescent psychiatrist Ganesh Shetty painted a dismal picture of the situation affecting children battling with mental-health disorders, saying 95 per cent of them go undetected and untreated.
Shetty, who was speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Academy of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, said in the 20 child-guidance clinics that exist islandwide, only 10 of the clinicians are working on a full-time basis.
He said in some instances children are neglected.
"The others have a load of adult patients and they try to squeeze out some time to help the children in child guidance clinic."
Shetty said approximately 10 per cent of the close to one million children in the island were suffering with a mental disorder and at least half that number has a serious disorder.
Battling resource constraints
He said the child-guidance sector was also battling with a number of resource constraints in caring for the children in need of help.
"The barriers are money, manpower and motivation. There are shortages of well-trained professionals who can help them in an effective manner.
"There are issues like transportation for the family when they have to carry the children to child-guidance clinic; they sometimes don't have the bus fare and when they go to PATH, sometimes they are turned down because they have TV in their houses or something like that," he said.
Shetty pointed out that if society continued to turn a blind eye to the affected group, there could be serious repercussions in the future.
"If these mental disorders go unidentified, it can lead to a lot of problems in the society which include crime and violence, suicide and drug use."