Rights commission highlights healthcare, homelessness

The Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission has publicly backed the government’s efforts to establish a purpose-built facility to care for the mentally ill.

“The commission continues to be concerned about the lack of services and facilities need to care for youth, and those who suffer from mental health issues,” a statement released Thursday by the commission indicated.

Mental health care issues in the Cayman Islands were highlighted recently in the first report of the Mental Health Commission which stated that nearly 4,000 people – 9 percent of whom are age 17 or younger – received some form of mental health-related services at public, private or overseas hospitals in 2013.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is also the Cayman Islands health minister, said that he believes there is an adequate number of healthcare professionals on Grand Cayman to meet patient needs. However, the lack of a long-term mental health patient-care facility in the Cayman Islands and a dearth of mental health practitioners on Cayman Brac continue to be daunting problems for the islands, the premier said.

In a series of public statements released Thursday, the Human RIghts Commission said it was gravely concerned with high levels of mental health issues and incidents of sexual abuse among adolescents who participated in a 2013 survey on adolescent health conducted by the government.

The results of that survey weren’t released until this year.

“The Cayman Islands government, and our community as a whole, must work towards ensuring that our young people have every opportunity to succeed in society and this includes the emotional support required to handle feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts,” the commission stated.

The lack of safe and secure housing for the homeless in the Cayman Islands was also noted as another issue the government should focus its attention on, in conjunction with efforts to improve the islands’ mental health situation.

“Governments have a duty to try to ensure that there is adequate housing for all individuals,” the commission noted.