Women and the el­derly high on the men­tal health radar

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­erjm.com

ONE EX­PERT in the area of men­tal health has sig­nalled that the el­derly and women are high on the radar as groups most vul­ner­a­ble to men­tal ill­ness.

Psy­chi­a­trist Pro­fes­sor Wen­del Abel told The Gleaner last Satur­day that fac­tors such as an age­ing pop­u­la­tion, in ad­di­tion to other stress­ful is­sues, con­tinue to weigh heav­ily on var­i­ous groups in so­ci­ety.

“There are those dis­or­ders that af­fect adults, such as de­pres­sion, which is very com­mon in women. One in five fe­males are af­fected by de­pres­sion. Of course, the el­derly are also vul­ner­a­ble given the fact that our pop­u­la­tion is age­ing. We are be­gin­ning to have to deal with an in­crease in de­men­tia among peo­ple who are liv­ing longer,” Abel said.

“For a lot of women with de­pres­sion, it’s due to hor­monal changes. So you find that when they are hav­ing their pe­ri­ods, the de­pres­sion gets worse. When women get de­pressed, they go to the doc­tor or church; when men get de­pressed, they go to the rum bar,” he told The Gleaner.

He be­moaned the fact that there con­tin­ues to be a dis­par­ity be­tween the ser­vices avail­able to ad­dress men­tal health and the num­ber of per­sons who ac­tu­ally re­ceive treat­ment. This, he be­lieves, could be dan­ger­ous for the un­der-re­sourced health sec­tor.

The pro­fes­sor also stressed that one should not ig­nore the ba­sics of prac­tis­ing healthy life­styles in or­der to com­bat the ef­fects of men­tal health dis­eases.

FREE DRUGS

“We have to get peo­ple aware and seek help early. The re­al­ity is that help is avail­able in Ja­maica. Men­tal health ser­vices are of­fered in the pub­lic health sys­tem across the is­land, and what is also in­ter­est­ing is that most of the drugs we use to treat the men­tally ill are cov­ered by the Na­tional Health Fund, or if you go to a pub­lic health fa­cil­ity, they are free. Drugs are ac­ces­si­ble. It’s ac­tu­ally one of the strengths of the pub­lic health sys­tem,” he said.

“Good men­tal well-be­ing is crit­i­cal. It’s im­por­tant for us to pay at­ten­tion to our life­style and our choices in how we deal with stress. Al­though life is tough and rough, its very im­por­tant that we re­mem­ber to take care of our­selves,” he charged.

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