Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson says the new primary health care renewal policy which was approved by Cabinet in January will significantly improve mental health services at the primary care level.
Dr. Ferguson was speaking during the 6th Triennial Pan-Caribbean Family Medicine Conference held on Friday, February 6, 2015 at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge and Conference Centre at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
“The new Primary Care Renewal Policy is expected to result in a paradigm shift for primary health care services and represents the push that we need to better provide services, including mental health care, at the primary health care level. At the base of it, we want to make primary care more attractive to our citizens so that they can better utilize their community health centres,” Dr. Ferguson said.
In the meantime, Dr. Ferguson said that stigma and discrimination were affecting the success of interventions put in place to deal with mentally ill persons. He says too often persons are chased from their communities because of the negative stigma associated with mental illness.
“We have to work very hard to chip away at the stigma attached to mental illness as this is a considerable barrier to any intervention that we seek to put in place to provide services for mentally ill clients and ensure that they are able to be reintegrated into society” he said.
The World Health Organization estimates that 14 percent of the global burden of disease is attributed to mental health conditions.
The conference was held under the theme “Family Physicians: Integrating Mental Health Care into Family Practice”.