| Mar 14, 2023

Society in distress! ‘Firefighter’ protest a reflection of mental health reality in Jamaica – Tufton

Tamoy Ashman

Tamoy Ashman / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes
A man claiming to be a fire fighter protesting on top of the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre today.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says the recent protest that saw a man claiming to be a ‘firefighter’ atop the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre, demanding better welfare for the service workers is a reflection of the reality of the state of mental health in Jamaica that cannot be ignored.

Earlier today (March 14) the man, reported to be a member of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), was seen at the highest point of the transport centre in St Andrew, waving a Jamaica flag. His presence caught the attention of passersby in the area who alerted the police and Fire Brigade.

In a video posted on the protestor’s social media, he said he was demanding better welfare for members of the JFB. The man has since climbed down from the area.

Though unclear on the nature of his protest, Tufton said his actions appeared to be a reflection of a reality the nation faces.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christpher Tufton. (Photo: JIS)

“It is, in my mind, a reflection of a reality we face. Despite our pride in Jamaica and our sense of who we are and our accomplishments, we are a society in distress in many ways and we can’t put our heads in the sand and ignore it,” said the minister.

“We can’t just talk about the achievements and ignore what is, in my mind, becoming more and more a mainstream feature of our society. We have to assess, we have to recalibrate and we have to respond,” he continued.

Tufton was speaking at the launch of Problem Management Plus (PM+), a programme that targets faith- and community-based organisations as providers of mental wellness support, in addition to the range of support services they currently provide to community members.

He added that the ministry has placed the improvement of citizen’s mental health as a priority and work is being done to ensure that facilities and trained personnel are available to respond to the issue.

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