SRHA regional director raises red flag about mental health

SRHA regional director raises  red flag about mental health

Person contemplates committing suicide by overdose.

~ SRHA boss says more people seeking help for condition in Manchester ~

MANCHESTER, Jamaica--Regional director at the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) Michael Bent says there is an increase in people accessing mental health services in Manchester, and also disclosed that there has been a rise in suicide attempts.

“In 2022, we saw some 5,882 clients at our primary and secondary healthcare facilities. Those clients visited the facilities 45,852 times, because one person does more than one visit. In 2023, the figure was 6,250 persons [who – Ed.] were seen and they visited the facilities 50,528 times, so we see there is an increase in persons accessing the services,” Bent told a Rotary Club event in Mandeville on Tuesday.

“In 2022, there were 26 reported suicide attempts among adults in Manchester and in 2023 there were 49, an increase of almost 90% of suicide attempts among adults in Manchester. Thank God, not many of them were successful. There were only attempts. It’s alarming [that] the numbers for our children are greater; in 2022 we had 63 children who attempted suicide in Manchester, while in 2023 there were 195 reported attempts,” he added.

The SRHA director was addressing the Rotary Club of Mandeville’s Vocational Service Awards at Regie’s Fine Dining. The function was held to award Ebenezer Rehabilitation Centre and Candle in the Dark Empowerment Centre for catering to the homeless and mentally ill in Manchester.

Bent called on parents, schools and community and civic groups to address societal problems regarding mental health.

“We have work to do. We have to stop the discrimination. We have to stop the stigmatisation. Persons need help. They need our help. The good thing is that not many of these attempts were successful,” he said.

“What is also interesting about the statistics is that we have more men who were brought to the clinics and diagnosed with psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia, compared to women, so we have 249 males and 93 females. On the other hand, we have more women who were diagnosed with depressive disorders compared to men, so we have 190 females and 69 males,” he added.

He said the mental health awareness response needs to be heightened by all groups.

“It is a lot to absorb. However, it brings into sharp focus the challenges and hurdles that we have to overcome to promote good mental health in our parish and ultimately in our country. I would want to say before it even reaches the parish, let us start with our homes. Too often, we point the finger elsewhere: ‘Oh, the neighbour mad bwoy or the mad girl down the road deh suh.’ Let us look within and start with our homes,” said Bent.

“I firmly believe that no single group can address this great health challenge, so as regional director, while we try to ensure the ongoing development of community mental health services and provide equitable, integrated and comprehensive care for these persons with these kinds of illnesses, I am calling on this group and others in corporate Jamaica to stay the course with us and for others to join in, because we have almost a crisis and it needs to be addressed,” he added. ~ Jamaica Observer ~

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