Mental Health was once overlooked by majority of the population as a result of the Jamaican culture. Over the past few years, it has received a lot of attention through sensitization and knowledge of the seriousness of the matter. Research suggests that there is a stigma attached to the issue of mental health, especially in the Caribbean and there is a lack of knowledge and willingness surrounding treatment of these illnesses. According to (Morgan, 2017), she states that years have gone by, when people used to assume that mental illnesses are very mysterious and due to various things that people do to you, so there is a certain stigma attached to mental illness.
There have not been any formal studies to document the number of Jamaican youth with a mental health condition, personnel from the Ministry of Health have extrapolated estimates from available epidemiological data and suggest that approximately 10% of children and adolescents across the island may have a diagnosable mental disorder (“More child mental-health professionals needed,” 2011). One of the rare recent studies examining self-report data of a no referred sample of adolescents in Jamaica revealed that 7 in 10 participants reported some symptoms of depression, with 27.7% report¬ing moderate to severe symptoms and 12.9% reporting severe symptoms of depression (Lipps, 2010) Older but relevant research by Lambert and colleagues suggests that a high number of Jamaican youth experience mental health concerns, particularly internalizing problems (Lambert, Lyubansky, & Achenbach, 1998; Lambert, Weisz, & Knight, 1989; Lambert et al., 1999). Taken together, these data suggest that a high proportion of Jamaican youth, especially adolescents, are likely experiencing internalizing problems and other mental health concerns. While child and adolescent mental health ser¬vices have reportedly expanded in Jamaica, the population needs are still largely unmet (McKenzie, 2008).
It appears to be the case that a large number of Jamaicans do not seek help for mental health issues (Francis, 2007; “More child mental-health professionals needed,” 2011).
In examining underutilization of mental health resources in Jamaica, an adolescent sample was considered for several reasons: (a) it appears that Jamaican adolescents may be at greater risk than younger persons for developing mental health issues (Lipps et al., 2010; Verhulst et al., 2003). (b) Jamaican adolescents appear to evidence higher rates of internalizing concerns making them the most ideal reporters of their internal states (as compared with externalizing behavior, which can be easily or more reliably noticed by observers (Lambert et al., 1989). (c) Jamaican adolescents are not typically formally exposed to mental health education in school, which would increase awareness about mental health issues, symptoms, risk factors, or where to seek help. Therefore, adolescents’ opinions, values, and attitudes may reflect core societal and cultural views of the wider Jamaican popula¬tion. (d) Jamaican adolescents (aged 16 and older) are able to consent to mental health services (Ministry of Justice of Jamaica, n.d.). Given this autonomy, it is especially important to understand the predictors of their mental health utilization or underutilization.
Taken together, it appears that Jamaican adolescents provide a unique sample of individuals who are potentially experiencing a greater mental health need, who are not using services, and whose help-seeking attitudes may reflect the salient sociocultural biases of the wider Jamaican society. Using the individual determinants of health service utilization model (Anderson ; Newman, 1973) as a framework for understanding how multi¬ple factors may play a role in mental health resource utilization, the current study examined factors related to psychological help-seeking attitudes in a Jamaican adolescent population.
The World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems was used to collect information on the mental health system in Jamaica in 2008. The mental health service is divided into national and regional health authorities. Mental health is integrated into general health care with all regions having most of the essential mental health components and psychotropic medication. A major weakness of the service is the child and adolescent and forensic component of the service. Most patients are treated in the outpatient community facilities at a rate of 1034 per 100,000 populations. These facilities exist throughout the island in the various communities, as part of primary health care.
According to (Bell, 2017), she made reference to the Jamaica Start stating that schizophrenia is the most prevalent and the most severe of all the disorder diagnosed and treated in both children and adults. Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders are also prevalent mental illness, which also come with suicidal thoughts. The majority of clinical services are provided by nurses, which represents 8 per 100,000 under the supervision of the psychiatrists which is 1 per 100,000. There is a dearth of psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists in the island due to the unattractive remuneration in the public sector. There is one mental hospital in the country with a bed capacity of 32 beds per 100,000 populations. The number of beds in the mental hospital has decreased by 23% in the last 5 years. Mental Health Education and Promotion is a stated priority. During the last two years there has been an active mental health promotion targeting all sectors.
The Ministry of Health in Jamaica has implemented a ‘Mental Health Programme /Policy Initiative’ which is said to “promote good mental health, prevention of mental health disorders and provision of a comprehensive range of services for all patients affected by mental health disorders across the lifespan”. The Ministry of Health also has a division known as the Mental Health Unit which is responsible to develop and implement policies to address the issue of mental health and the prevention and treatment of mental disorders across the lifespan.
By contrast, community mental health services are fragmented in Jamaica. The range of services and access to them is limited. The mental health officers are the backbone of the services.
By crude estimates, there are 500,000 persons in Jamaica who have mental health problems. The number of patients on the books of the community services has increased from 7,779 in 1995 to 10,907 in 2000.