RJR News / Jamaica’s Ministry of Health plans to increase the complement of psychiatric nursing aides to strengthen community mental health services.
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton made that announcement at a Psychiatric Nursing Aides Conference held in Montego Bay, St. James on Thursday.
Dr. Tufton said the recommendation that was made by the recently appointed Task Force on Mental Health and Homelessness is in keeping with the Ministry’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of the country’s psychiatric nursing aides.
He noted that the recruitment of psychiatric nursing aides started in Jamaica in 1972 with 22 trainees and has increased to more than 400 because of the growing need for mental health care.
The Health Minister also conceded that there is a clear need for more personnel to be recruited to reverse the poor treatment meted out to the mentally ill, many of whom suffer in silence.
He noted that more than 70 percent of persons with mental illness will not disclose this information for fear of discrimination, especially at work.
He said this fuels the gap between illness and treatment, increases morbidity as well as decreases productivity.
Dr. Tufton noted that depression and anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health challenges in the workplace, but they are often undiagnosed and untreated, and can result in absenteeism.
He said a draft workplace mental health policy has been developed by the Ministry of Health, but while legislation, policies and guidelines are important, there are other things which need to be done to accomplish the necessary changes.