“If current trends continue, the number of mentally ill people in the country could double in the next 10 years” was the opening sentence of an article by the Jamaica Observer. Mental illness is a serious social issue, however, it is often overlooked. Many Jamaicans especially those of the lower class tend to take mental illness lightly. Often times if one is diagnosed with a mental illness, they tend to disregard it: “A demon deh pon yuh” or “A mad him a mad”.
Awareness is a form of education and the application of knowledge is power. The more you know, and act on it; the more power you have to make a positive impact. Awareness is vital in understanding what mental illnesses are and how persons who are affected can get the help they need. Being aware also reduces the stigma which mentally ill people face. Stigma causes shame and allows room for people with mental illness to be rejected. Additionally, increased awareness can reduce the misconceptions surrounding the mentally ill. Many people are of the notion that people with a mental illness are uncontrollable, violent, crazy, or even demon possessed. Imagine your son or daughter who suffers from schizophrenia, being described with these words or being outcasted by the community. How would this make you feel?
Definition and Types
According to Mayo Clinic ‘Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour.” There are many factors which contribute to mental illnesses such as genetics, brain structure or chemistry, and experiencing trauma.
There are nearly 300 mental disorders listed in the (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) DSM-5. Some of the main groups of mental disorders are trauma-related, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Then there are psychotic and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder).
There are a lot of symptoms associated with mental illnesses. Some of which are listed below:
- unusual or illogical thought
- unreasonable anger or irritability
- poor concentration and memory
- hearing voices which no one else can perceive
- increased or decreased sleep
- increased or low appetite
- lack of motivation
- drug use
- not looking after personal hygiene or other responsibilities
- not performing as well at school or work
If you or someone you know has mental health issues, please feel free to visit or call any of the locations listed below:
- Mental Health Unit – Ministry of Health & Wellness, Jamaica
- Bellevue Hospital
- University Hospital of the West Indies
Information retrieved from: