The Mental Health Unit is a part of the Health Services, Planning and Integration Branch of the Ministry of Health.
The Unit is headed by the Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who reports to the Director of Health Services, Planning and Integration. Other officers in this unit are the Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the Community Mental Health Programmme Coordinator, the Programme Development Officer and the Secretary, all reporting to the Head of the Unit.
The Mental Health Unit is primarily charged with the responsibility of developing policies and plans to address the promotion of mental health, the prevention of mental disorders and the development of a comprehensive range of services to facilitate early detection, treatment and rehabilitation across the lifespan, for affected persons. Important outputs of this process are the National Mental Health Policy and National Strategic Plan for Mental Health. Another important aspect of work of the Mental Health Unit is the recommendation of legislative amendments to ensure that Jamaica’s Mental Health Legislation is in keeping with international best practice standards.
The Director of the Unit advises the Senior Directorates and the Minister of Health on matters related to mental health.
The provision of a Director for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Portfolio highlights the commitment of the Ministry of Health to ensuring that youth related matters are given the importance they deserve. It is recognized that the majority of persons with mental illness would have been showing signs and symptoms prior to age fourteen (14) years. Hence much attention must be paid in these years to prevention, early detention and treatment. Although not directly supervising the work of the Regional Health Authorities, and the Bellevue Hospital, technical guidance is provided through policies, plans and the development of treatment protocols and guidelines.
Officers of the Unit also carry out regular monitoring and evaluation of services to ensure adherence to the standards developed by the Ministry of Health.
The Mental Health Unit participates in much collaborative initiatives both intrasectorally and intersectorally. Furthermore there is wider collaboration with multisectoral organizations and non-governmental organizations, in the interest of achieving the stated goals.
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