Government to review mental health facility business case

Currently, the only mental health facility in the Cayman Islands is the eight-bed Mental Health Center at the Cayman Islands Hospital. - PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

A residential mental health facility could save government money in the long term, Dr. Marc Lockhart said following the presentation of the business case for the project to government caucus.

Dr. Lockhart, the chairman of the Mental Health Commission, said the KPMG report showed the project was feasible. The report will be released publicly once it has been reviewed by Cabinet.

Dr. Lockhart said the business case looked at potential sites for the facility, which, if approved, would feature cottage-style accommodation across a 10-15 acre area.

The report also analyzes the prevalence of mental health disorders in Cayman and suggests options for the treatment program that the facility would need to offer.

Dr. Lockhart said a successful long-term residential mental health facility would likely include occupational and vocational programs to help reintegrate patients back to the community.

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“It would need to have a strong rehabilitation component. It is not just a case of warehousing people and putting them on medication,” he said.

Dr. Marc Lockhart
Dr. Marc Lockhart

He acknowledged there would be a large capital cost to build the facility but said government would make substantial savings elsewhere.

“What we did on Monday was to give Caucus an overall view, which was primarily done by KPMG, showing that it is feasible and where it would save money.

“We are currently spending a lot of money to send people overseas and keep them there indefinitely. We have approximately 15 people being treated for serious mental health disorders in Jamaica and the U.S. and the numbers are increasing. We have just sent two or three more in the past month.

“Some are homeless, some go in and out of our inpatient unit, some live with family and friends, others are in prison,” Dr. Lockhart said.

“It makes sense from a financial perspective as well as a clinical perspective to have a facility here.”

Around 60 people still in the Cayman Islands are classified, under the Elections Law, as unable to vote because of mental illness, he said. A further 20-30 people are classified as not functioning adequately enough to participate in social activities.

He said the meeting with caucus on Monday was positive.

“The next step is to make some adjustments and formally present the finished report to Cabinet,” he said. “I can’t say what the final decision would be but the reception was positive. There were a lot of good questions and they seemed receptive to it.”

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