Think you are struggling with mental Illness, seek help says Dr Eaton Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Senior Registrar in Psychiatry at the St Catherine Health Department, Dr. Jordan Eaton, is encouraging persons who think they may be struggling with mental illness to seek help at a medical facility.

Dr Eaton during an address recently pointed out that help is available in the public health system as well as at private facilities, adding that persons should not shy away from seeking treatment.

“If you see something… say something; you do not have to go through it alone,” the Senior Registrar said, pointing out that help is available for everyone while assuring that most medications provide effective response to what patients experience.

He further advised that most of the medications are subsidised through the National Health Fund (NHF).

Dr Eaton, who was the winner in three categories at the 2023 staging of the National Health Research Conference, was speaking against the background of his research findings.

He was awarded the Best Overall Poster, Best Student Presentation and Most Impactful Poster Presentation for the study which was titled – ‘Mental Health and the Medical Services at a General Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica’.

It was a five-year retrospective analysis of referral patterns and associated factors of persons seen on a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (CLP) Service at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

Dr. Jordan further explained that the study focused on 770 patients who were referred to the CLP service from other specialties within the facility.

He said within the hospital, there is a dedicated team for psychiatric patients.

However, for patients who are admitted to areas, such as medical surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, the CLP team responds if patients have a pre-existing mental health condition or develop a mental illness.

A major concern for Dr. Eaton is that data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for Jamaica indicates that two to three persons per 100,000 are diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia.

He pointed out that according to data from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016, there is a high rate of depression experienced by persons between the ages of 15 and 74.

Dr. Eaton argued that it costs 1.5 times more for undiagnosed mental health conditions to go untreated than it would cost to treat them.

“When you compare, for example, the cost of admission, medication and therapy, the cost of untreated depression is about 1.5 times higher in terms of lost revenue, absenteeism at work, presenteeism at work and things of that nature,” the Senior Registrar noted.

He added that international data reveals that anxiety and depression are some of the highest burdens of diseases.

“Anxiety and depression are about number three in the global burden of diseases. When you look at schizophrenia, for example, persons who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have an adjusted life span which is about 10-20 years shorter when compared to persons who do not have schizophrenia” Dr. Eaton stated.

“What we are looking at, with all of these psychiatric diseases, is that they increase the burden of diseases and they either cause complications from underlying medical problems, such as diabetes and hypertension or they predispose you to develop these conditions,” he added.

Dr. Eaton argued that “mental illness is all around us”, and highlighted that it is likely that persons have at least one relative or friend who has a mental illness, noting that many patients so afflicted are quite functional.