The Health Ministry has revealed it is looking to discharge more than 400 of the 667 patients currently at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston, which cares for the mentally ill.
However, the ministry is moving to transition an increasing number of Jamaicans living with mental illness from institutional care into community care. It said this is the best approach to rehabilitation.
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton said, while 450 of the patients at Bellevue are ready for discharge, it needs the help of their families and community members to return them home. He promised that families will not be left to care for their mentally ill relatives on their own.
Dr. Tufton said the ministry is increasing the number of community mental health workers to ensure timely and effective home visits with persons who default from treatment. He explained that the intention is to reduce the number of emergencies and crisis calls once people are out of institutional care.
Already, 30 psychiatric nursing aides have been trained in the western region and another 47 are being trained. The ministry is also in the process of procuring 10 buses to serve the psychiatric outreach teams islandwide.