Better facilities for mental health patients and a greater understanding of related issues are urgently needed in the Cayman Islands, said Mental Health Commission chair Dr. Marc Lockhart.
The issue of mental health has recently come into the spotlight after a half-naked woman smashed up stores in George Town with a machete last week and demanded food.
Dr. Lockhart, a practicing psychiatrist, said the Cayman Islands are in desperate need of a long-term facility for mental health sufferers because the current eight-bed facility is not sufficient.
The facility, he said, adds to the “evolving door” problem for mental health patients, who are stabilized at the hospital but placed back into society before receiving adequate treatment because of a shortage of facilities and halfway houses.
The commission is looking at pre-existing buildings to establish a facility, perhaps within a year.
“The major issue is that we need a long-term facility to treat those with the more severe types of mental disabilities, or mental illnesses,” Dr. Lockhart said.
“We need to increase understanding and awareness of mental health issues and the impact that drug use or drug abuse plays on mental health. There is a toxic combination of certain types of mental illness where it’s mixed with drug abuse, and then that becomes a ticking time bomb.”
Dr. Lockhart said people also need more education on the issue of mental health to remove the stigma around it.
“When we think of mental health, we think of someone who is unable to function, at the very bottom of society. The majority of people are not violent, are not dangerous, and are working among us in society,” he said.
The long-term facility he referenced would be geared toward treating more complex cases, primarily double-diagnosis cases in which people suffer chronic, severe substance abuse, primarily with cocaine and alcohol.
Health Minister Osbourne Bodden said it is a goal within the next two years to have a facility on island able “to provide proper and much-needed care and avoid sending our loved ones overseas, at great costs to the country and hurt to the families.”
“The current temp facilities at the HSA [Health Services Authority] are insufficient and can only do so much,” Mr. Bodden said. “Families and patients are suffering at the moment. We have to change this and fix this problem once and for all.”
Total number of encounters made to the Health Services Authority’s mental health facilities for all ages in 2012: 4,734
- Ages 0-4: 121
- Ages 5-9: 271
- Ages 10-14: 346
- Ages 15 – 19: 299
Total children: 1,037
- Ages 20-24: 303
- Ages 25-29: 359
- Ages 30-34: 303
- Ages 35-39: 299
- Ages 40-44: 449
- Ages 45-49: 433
- Ages 50-54: 557
- Ages 55-59: 321
- Ages 60-64: 245
- Ages 65-69: 83
- Ages 70-74: 126
- Ages 75-79: 47
- Ages 80-84: 77
- Ages 85 and over: 95
Total adults: 3,697
Total number of people with mental health illnesses at HSA in 2012 were: 1,462; of this total males made up 45.6 percent (666) and females, 54.4 percent (796).
Attendance by the 1,462 clients were 51 percent (2,415) and 49 percent (2,319) to males and females, respectively. Total encounter contacts were: 4,734.
Mental health statistics 2012