Tue | Sep 28, 2021

JMDA urges doctors to seek mental-health help

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Following reports that some medical professionals are concerned about their mental health in the high-stressed COVID-19 environment, Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) President Dr Mindi Fitz-Henley is urging physicians not to be afraid to seek help.

Fitz-Henley disclosed that she was scheduled to re-engage with the Jamaica Psychological Association to discuss arrangments for intervention for doctors.

“It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, and so we do encourage persons to reach out for help at all times because we have to start taking care of ourselves if we are going to adequately take care of the country,” she told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the JMDA expressed concern for the mental health of its members, who have been on the front line treating COVID-19 patients since Jamaica recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus in March 2020.

That concern follows the revelation in March this year that doctors, nurses, the security forces, and other first responders have been reportedly suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Fitz-Henley, a trained psychiatrist, said that the pressure doctors are now experiencing is made worse because many hospital departments tend to be undermanned.

“Just the thought that this pressure could increase has caused a lot of anxiety-type features, and I have gotten a lot of calls saying, ‘Doctor, I just can’t go through another week, I can’t do it,’” said Fitz-Henley.

“From last year, we had reached out to the Jamaica Psychological Association, and they were very helpful and had actually offered free counselling sessions to all healthcare workers. It is important for us to identify persons who need help quickly so we can try to intervene as quickly as possible,” added Fitz-Henley.

Meanwhile, psychiatrist Dr Kevin Goldburn, who operates out of the Living Waters Medical Centre in Montego Bay, suggested that medical personnel who feel overwhelmed could create a ‘buddy system’ – forming small groups to offer support to each other.