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Let’s collectively address mental illness – Omar Robinson

Published:Friday | August 30, 2019 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association


Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), wants the State and the private sector to work together to create a supportive environment that embraces persons suffering from mental illness as a way of reducing cases of murder-suicide among couples.

Depression is the leading mental health illness around the world, and, according to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey of 2016, depression has a prevalence rate of 18.5 per cent among females and 9.9 per cent among males.

“As family members and neighbours, we need to create more supportive environments where persons can freely share issues with trusting individuals who can provide the advice and assistance needed that could possibly prevent these horrible incidents from occurring,” said Robinson while delivering the keynote address at the recent media launch of the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI) Fun Run Road Race in Montego Bay, St James.

“As we launch CUMI Come Run, I appeal for more services for people with mental illness,” said Robinson.

“We must all strive to reduce the prejudice and discrimination around mental illness so that more persons would seek and get help early.”

Mental illness, he noted, is affecting many Jamaicans, and includes depression, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, drug addiction, and personality disorders.

“Many individuals and families are dealing with one or more of these manifestations of mental illness,” continued Robinson.

“Households lose out financially when people can’t work, employers suffer when employees become less productive, so we all need a better understanding of mental illness and how it can be treated, bolstered by a sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone.”

Robinson said that even as developed and developing nations like Jamaica continued to battle with broken and under-resourced mental health systems, there was a greater need for effective community approaches like that of CUMI in promoting programmes that enhance a pattern of positive thinking.

“An investment in Jamaica’s mental health makes excellent economic sense, and the scaling-up of treatment will lead to a return on investment in better health outcomes for all of us,” noted Robinson.

“We must credit CUMI’s efforts on behalf of the mentally ill in helping to change public perception on these populations and to advocate for improved care and conditions for them,” added Robinson.