The Ministry of Health has expressed concern about the high rate of readmissions to the Psychiatric Hospital in any given year, and says that a holistic, integrated approach is necessary to deal with the issue.

Speaking on Tuesday at the opening of an acute male admission unit at the Black Rock, St. Michael facility, Health Minister John Boyce stated: ???Social support services such as the availability of welfare benefits, housing, educational and skills training and employment opportunities form a vital component of mental health care.

???The Ministry of Health is unable to provide all these components, but stands responsible for those who, because of the absence of vital support systems, find themselves relapsing and repeatedly admitted to the hospital.???

Mr. Boyce revealed that in 2014, there were 237 first-time admissions to the hospital, in comparison with 977 readmissions. During the five-year period 2010 to 2014, out of a total 5,767 admissions, 1,221 were in the first-time category and 4,546 in the readmission category.

The Health Minister said: ???This trend speaks to the outcome of client management and their successful reintegration into the community. It also tells us of the need to make our services more efficient and effective, maximising human and financial resources to achieve sustainable results.???

Stressing that success in mental health care was multifaceted, he maintained that it therefore required equal participation from health services, welfare, housing, skills training and employment, in addition to continuous family and community support.

Mr. Boyce also noted that there needed to be a special focus on developing prevention programmes for men, disclosing that the male to female ratio of patients at the hospital was three to one.

The acute admission unit will cater to 45 men, and will provide the critical care needed to stabilise patients and prepare them for reintegration within their families, or for transfer to less specialised care in a step-down residential or outpatient setting.

???What is also critical for the client???s recuperation and reintegration, especially on admission to the acute care setting, is the immediate and active involvement of family in care and management,??? the Health Minister stressed. He added that the absence of this involvement resulted in the client regressing on discharge and often requiring readmission.

He said that the Ministry was therefore encouraging the formation of family support groups, and he called on the wider community, including retired health care workers and social workers, to assist in this area.

The Health Minister disclosed that the Ministry of Health was working to finalise a national strategic plan for mental health that would systematically address all components required to improve and modernise its delivery.

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