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Jamaican Mental Illness

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Being a part of the MBBS programme, I had to witness first-hand the issue of mental illness, and the stigma that surrounds it. Since Emergency Medicine is the field I wish to explore further after graduating from the MBBS programme, I have dedicated a great amount of time in the Accident and Emergency department at the University Hospital of the West Indies. In this environment, I can take on a more hands-on approach and gain more practical skills in this discipline. One of the most striking things, I have noted in A&E, is the great number of mentally ill patients we treat daily. As I enter through the double glass doors, I am greeted by the loud shouts of a patient that is strapped down in bed. They are usually berating the doctors for the…show more content…
Using the same source, stigma is defined as a strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something, especially when this is unfair. (Cambridge English Dictionary, 2018). When it comes to mental illness, Jamaicans perception of the illness is negative since they link the mentally ill to being prone to volatility, danger or violence. According to a case study conducted by Jamaican and US mental health professionals, the universally shared emotion that Jamaicans share regarding mental illness is fear. The sample used in this study refer this feeling to stories that they have been told or first-hand experience. The study even went further outline the negative implications that this stigmatization has on persons seeking psychiatric help. Jamaicans that suffer from mental illness are so afraid of the stigmatization that comes with it that they are unwilling to be evaluated, counseled, or treated for this issue. (Hickling, et al.…show more content…
This is said because, according to The Jamaican Information Service article titled, “Community Mental Health Care the Way Forward”, an interview conducted with Dr. Oo, the Senior Medical Officer at the Bellevue Hospital. He states that over the span of four years (2008-2012), Jamaica has been moving away from inpatient care of the mentally ill to community care. This process is referred to as deinstitutionalization. Proof of this is shown by the diminishing number of patients who are cared for in a mental institute. The population of Bellevue, the biggest mental hospital in Jamaica, has decreased drastically from over 2,000 in-patients in 1988 to less than 200 in 2017. The article explains the benefits of deinstitutionalization or community care which includes making sure that the patient has a continual social connection with their community and family, to reduce the stigmatization that surrounds mental illness in the community and community care is a more cost-effective alternative to the use of mental institutes. With this said, deinstitutionalization brings with it more available jobs that need to be filled. These include and are not limited to psychologists, occupational therapists, community mental health officers, psychiatric aides, and psychiatrists. All professionals have a role to
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