PHOTO: JIS PHOTOGRAPHER Minister of Health and Wellness,​ Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton

KINGSTON, Jamaica–October 12th, 2020–The Ministry of Health and Wellness is prioritizing mental health interventions in order to address issues that have surfaced or might occur as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In delivering his message for World Mental Health Day, which was observed on Saturday,October 10th, portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that a number of Jamaicans are struggling with depression, and there are elevated levels of anxiety and stress among the population.

He noted that the emergence of conditions such as acute psychosis, adjustment disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and protracted grief reactions appear to be on the rise.

It is in this regard, he said, that the Ministry recently launched its COVID-19 Mental Health Response Program, which will provide community-based support and ease of access to mental health services.

“Not only will the team provide psychological first aid and engage in neighborly check-ins, they will also provide vulnerable community members with assistance to do day-to-day tasks, including filling prescriptions and grocery shopping. These are in addition to the provision of special transportation services for the elderly,” he pointed out. Dr. Tufton said that the intervention is particularly important for older persons, many of whom now spend most of their time indoors, given their vulnerability to COVID-19, and are struggling with feelings of isolation.

At the same time, he said that children and youth are also facing psychosocial challenges due to the pandemic, which has kept them away from friends while moving them into a world where teaching and learning have to take place online.

Citing statistics, the Minister said that in Jamaica, persons between the ages of 15 and 34 years are among those with the highest overall prevalence of depression.

He noted that 25 per cent of Jamaican adolescents, 13 to 17 years old, reportedly considered suicide (2017 Global School Health Survey) and 18 per cent actually attempted suicide.

Persons, who require mental health support are urged to call the Mental Health Suicide Prevention Helpline: 888 NEW LIFE (639-5433).

They are also encouraged to share their story via the Ministry’s mental health page, https://www.moh.gov.jm/mental-health.

World Mental Health Day was observed under the theme ‘Mental Health for All: Greater Investment, Greater Access’.