Opposition Spokesperson on health, Horace Dalley, says that 107,000 Jamaicans sought treatment for mental health conditions, last year.
However, he pointed out that many persons with mental health issues do not seek treatment, due to the stigma associated with it and how family, friends and their communities treat them after disclosure.
Dalley, who is the past minister of health, said that the previous government had developed a mental health policy framework and strategic plan for the management of mental health, which looked at best practices worldwide and devised strategies to suit local needs, including amendments to the Mental Health Act.
He admitted that local hospitals were not equipped to accommodate mental health patients, leaving patients to exposure to neglect and rejection.
He said that the previous administration had retrofitted the bottom floor of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and deployed specialist nurses to deal with these patients, who were showing up regularly at the wards.
He said that the government cannot tackle the issue on its own, but insisted that there was no need to repackage the response.
He urged the current government to focus on engaging stakeholders which, he said, is critical to the success of the policy.
“I urge you to adopt the policy and protect the gains and give the mentally ill another chance at redemption,” Dalley stated.