Tomorrow, October 10, will be observed as World Mental Health Day. This year, the day’s theme is “Dignity in Mental Health.” This theme raises the question of what it means to facilitate dignity in mental health in Jamaica. Surveying the WHO Fact Sheet’s suggestions for the day, the following ideas come to mind for the Jamaican context:
- Ensuring proper care– This Gleaner article details the provisions for mental healthcare locally, including free/subsidized medication through the NHF. Despite the provisions currently in place, there is still work to be done. For example, a 2009 WHO report found that there were only 1.127 psychiatrists and 0.338 psychologists per 100,000 Jamaicans.
- Improving public perception– According to Commonwealth Health, the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in Jamaica are depression and schizophrenia, with depression rates comparable to worldwide levels. Increased knowledge of these and other disorders can reduce stigma, and encourage persons to seek help. You can learn more through WHO’s Fact Sheet on Depression and this 5 Facts about Schizophrenia post.
- Forming civil society support groups– One such group, Mensana, hosts support meetings for families affected by mental illness, and often holds a Soup Day, where you can donate a small, but well placed contribution to the work they do. Another group, the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JAMHAN), seeks to raise awareness and end discrimination surrounding mental health issues. Supporting groups such as these can aid in improving public perception of mental healthcare.
So, what does the phrase “Dignity in Mental Health” mean to you, and how do you think Jamaica can better support this goal? Read more about World Mental Health Day here, and comment with your suggestions for supporting the goal of dignity in mental health.