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LET'S talk LIFE...Mental-health issues

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Yvonnie Bailey- Davidson

Dear Counsellor:

I have heard about the Bellevue Hospital and community mental health. I have a brother who is mentally ill and I would like to access care for him.

- Melody

Dear Melody:

Bellevue is Jamaica's only mental-health hospital. Some patients are admitted while others are treated as outpatients. Acutely ill patients are admitted to Bellevue or other hospitals across the island.

Some patients have to be hospitalised because they are a threat to others or themselves. Many patients are also treated at health centres in or near their communities.

Nowadays, there are psychiatrists and mental-health nurses across the island at various health centres and hospitals. Go to your nearest hospital and ask about the mental-health services available at that location.

There are also private psychiatrists across the island who can diagnose and treat patients.

Strong family support is important. So, too, is compliance with medication and doctor's visits. Many mentally ill homeless persons are abandoned by their relatives at Bellevue. It is good that you are showing interest in your brother's illness.

Patients on medication tend to cope well. Most individuals recover from their illness and play their role at home and at the workplace. Medication can be both cheap and expensive, so find treatment which will suit your pocket. Many general practitioners are skilled in treating mental illness.

People with mental illness are stress-prone and will decompensate whenever they are stressed. Death in the family is a big stressor.

As you can see, help is readily available in both the private and public sectors.

Marital itch

Dear Counsellor:

I have been married for seven years and am having difficulties. My husband and I cannot agree on any issue. We need help.

- Maxine

Dear Maxine:

Disputes and conflicts are parts of relationships. You will need coping skills to deal with issues. In a relationship, individuals can play one of three roles: parent, child and adult. Your task is to identify which role you are playing at varying times. The mature roles are the adult-adult negotiations. Some people don't like to be treated like children or be expected to be the parent.

Marriage is a commitment between two people to take care of each other in good times or bad times. It is not an easy task, but with God's help, your relationship will be a success. Identify what are your trigger points and those of your spouse. Look carefully at your trigger points and devise strategies to cope with them.

You need to have a thick skin because you can't afford to react to every slight.

Triggers remind you that you need to put up your shields to protect your feelings. We cannot be at the mercy of others by reacting to everything. Some people fly off the handle easily, while others are mild-mannered. Never take your spouse for granted if he or she is non-confrontational. He or she will erupt someday and the outcome could be disastrous.

See a counsellor who will teach you dispute mediation and conflict-resolution skills. It is a worthwhile investment as the skills are transferable to all relationships.

For advice on personal and family issues, email Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson at or call her at 978-8602.