Joy Crooks, nurse administrator of the Montego Bay-based Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), has raised concerns over what she says is an increase in the number of homeless youth on the streets of the Second City.
"We are seeing more young people on the streets, predominantly young men. They are not mad, as many people in Jamaica always label every homeless person, but they live on the streets and are trying to eke out a living by hustling," Crooks said.
She said while they are not mentally ill, she fears for them as the harsh conditions and interactions with other persons on the streets could see them developing mental-health issues in the near future.
DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY
The profile of those on the streets, she explains, is youth in their late teens up to age 25 who are unkempt and seem to be in a daze or disconnected from reality; however, they speak lucidly.
"Based on our observation, it is not linked to mental-health issues. From what I am seeing, it has a stronger social component. Some are asking for food and clothes and a greater number has been coming to CUMI for that. They say that's all they want," explained Crooks.
She said they often visit churches and other organisations where they beg food, clothes, and money.