More than 120 people have been trained to help citizens manage and address their anxiety, stress and mild depression under the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Problem Management Plus (PM+) programme.
The programme takes a community-centred approach, providing problem-solving training for stakeholders, such as church and community leaders, to assist people in managing everyday adversities. Volunteers were trained to introduce coping strategies and problem-solving skills to clients.
Speaking at the launch of the pilot programme today (March 14), Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness, said Jamaica is a society in distress and PM+ is aimed at “normalising a response that will help people out of their particular distress”.
“Despite the many achievements that we have as a nation, as a people and indeed as a Government, we are a society in distress. And it’s something that I think we need to say if we really believe that this is in fact the case,” said Tufton.
He added that the ministry does not have enough “psychiatrists or psychologists, doctors or even nurses, to respond to this kind of normalisation of distress and it’s going to require all of us to play a critical role”.
Tufton noted that, within community centres and churches, there are people who already provide psychosocial support, and, through this programme, they will be better able to identify and resolve the problems being faced by residents in their communities and provide solutions.
Echoing the sentiments was Ian Stein, representative from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) for Jamaica and The Cayman Islands.
He added that mental health has been a challenge for decades and the programme is a great step in the right direction to eliminate the stigma surrounding the issue. But, more community engagement is needed.
For her part, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer, said PM+ provides a standardised approach that can be used to help citizens solve their problems.
She shared that the programme will see PM+ providers having five to seven sessions with their clients to help them overcome their adversities and work is being done to expand the reach of the programme.
PM+ providers are trained to assist persons with loss of family, friends, livelihood, exposure to violence or natural disasters. Providers are not trained to help those who struggle with suicide or who have plans to end their life. Also exempted as clients are those who have severe impairment due to mental, neurological or substance use disorders.
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