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Economy affecting mental health of Jamaicans

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2011 | 8:56 AM

Debbie-Ann Wright, Assistant News Editor

Psychologist, Dr. Leahcim Semaj, says the 14 consecutive quarters of economic decline has been affecting the mental health of Jamaicans, leading many to engage in destructive behaviours.

He said the stress caused by the economic pressures is also compounded by the fact that there are not enough outlets through which Jamaicans can easily access mental health care.

Yesterday, the education ministry reported that a suicide hotline set up just over a week ago to deal with issues affecting troubled teens was being inundated with calls from adults.

Dr. Semaj said this is a clear sign that there are many Jamaicans in desperate need of mental health services.

He said many Jamaicans might be seeking out facilities such as help lines because of the anonymity they provide, given the stigma attached to mental illness in Jamaica.

He is recommending that the government provide more help lines for adults as a starting point for them to deal with their mental issues.

He is also suggesting that the government start utilising university graduates with psychology degrees to reach stressed out and emotionally unstable persons in communities.