Dr. Frederick Hickling
Dr. Frederick Hickling, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, says the government needs to ensure that the families of patients who will be discharged from the Bellevue Hospital in St. Andrew receive the necessary support.
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has revealed that more than 400 of the 667 patients at the hospital will be discharged as the Ministry moves to transition an increasing number of Jamaicans living with mental illness from institutional care into community care.
In an interview with RJR News Thursday morning, Professor Hickling said he is in support of the initiative by the Ministry of Health as he believes this is the best approach to rehabilitation for persons living with mental illness.
Dr. Hickling suggested that the government partner with psychiatrists and other medical practitioners to make the initiative more successful.
He noted that the government's move to increase the number of community mental health aides across the country will auger well for the mental health community.
Dr. Hickling has recommended a programme that will, among other things, provide caregivers with skills to treat mentally ill people.
"I think the government would be well advised to look at a programme...where, if patients are rehabilitated into their family home, that the family would then be able to get a stipend to be able to look after them economically and that this would be linked with the medical and psychiatric oversight of their care in the community," he said.