Health Ministry seeks COVID-19 mental health ambassadors
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, is calling on civil society organisations across Jamaica to become ambassadors for the COVID-19 Mental Health Response Programme aimed at addressing the psychological and psychosocial challenges associated with the virus.
The initiative, being undertaken in collaboration with Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), aims to provide community-based support as well as create ease of access to mental health services through community engagement.
Speaking at the Western Jamaica Community Leaders Meeting at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, on Thursday (October 8), Dr. Tufton noted that many persons are having difficulty in adjusting their lifestyles in keeping with the health and safety protocols, including the restrictions on movement.
He said that studies have shown that while people are being protected from the virus “we are creating another set of challenges that affect their mental health and stability”.
Dr. Tufton said that the COVD-19 ambassadors will be an effective tool in helping vulnerable persons suffering psychological distress and mental health issues.
“The mental health framework will allow persons to be informed enough to be able to give a listening ear, give some basic advice and refer someone for more advanced counselling or care through the public health system,” he noted.
Tufton indicated that a number of volunteers have already signed up to the programme, but more individuals and groups need to be recruited.
“So I would like to encourage those who are interested to be a part of the ambassador programme to help to reach out to the vulnerable in the society, those who may experience mental health challenges, such as the old and even the young. We want to give you that information to guide them and incorporate you into an army of persons across the country who will play a part,” he added.
Following the meeting, Tufton and a team of health workers from the Noel Holmes Hospital toured several sections of Lucea where they handed out face masks and health-related information to the public.