Despite the Government’s best efforts to sensitize and educate residents about mental illness in the workplace, discrimination and stigma persist.
Speaking this morning at a service at the Mount of Praise Wesleyan Holiness Church to commemorate Mental Health Month, Minister of Health John Boyce said that persons frequently do not seek the treatment or support necessary in fear of losing their jobs.
“Adults often fear that disclosure of their mental illness will have negative consequences for their employment, their family and their participation generally in community life,” he said.
“We must ensure that persons with mental health conditions are not denied opportunities to contribute to social and economic life and their human rights are indeed protected,” he added.
Boyce said that the misconceptions towards mental illness continue to fuel the discrimination and mistreatment occurring in the workplace.
He revealed that in an effort to help patients receive treatment with their dignity intact, his ministry has integrated mental health services in the community, namely psychiatric outpatient sessions at the polyclinics.
“This makes it more convenient for those with mental health conditions to receive their treatment and also minimize the stigma and discrimination currently associated with institutional care,” he said.
Assistant Director of the Psychiatric Hospital, Heather Payne-Drakes, said the hospital is launching The Friends of the Psychiatric Hospital Charity, to not only raise funds for hospital equipment but to spread awareness that much like a physical ailment, mental illness needs to be addressed and treated.
“We still have some stigma and some discrimination but that is being eroded so we want to use this association to increase awareness and when people are aware of what is happening and what mental illness is and how it can be brought on, then they realize it is not different from having another illness, diabetes or a heart issue. It is just another medical problem that you need attention for,” she said.