What does JamPsych REALLY do?
We at the Jamaican Psychological Society have 2 major functions in a nutshell (however, see our mission and vision and core beliefs on our website at www.jampsych.com) :
1. To protect, guide, advocate for and grow our profession (psychology & counselling)
2. To protect, guide, advocate for the public with regards to mental wellness
What this means is that we perform several functions such as: research, liaising with local and international organizations, support policy development, advocate for more accessible mental health services [through insurance and government programmes], better compensation packages for psychologists and counsellors, publicize information about psychology and counselling, support our members with opportunities for career development via media appearances, lectures and workshops, provide continuing education for members and the public on topical issues and provide information and advice about referral networks and resources for mental health care.
Is there anything we CAN’T do?
It is critical to remember that we are a membership organization much like the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association or the Pharmacy Association of Jamaica or the Pediatric Association of Jamaica. These entities, like JamPsych, do not provide services for the public but their members are professionals and offer services privately and publicly through their affiliations.
What we do NOT do is offer programmes and services directly from our offices. We do not offer therapy or counselling or conduct assessments or consultations at our office. We do not write referral letters for hospitalizations, we do not instruct the police or community mental health teams to pick up mentally ill individuals from the streets or homes and take them for mental health services. Our members, in their individual capacities, may have training, qualifications and jurisdiction to provide these services and you can find them here www.jampsych.com/membership but please be aware that not all members are licensed to practice in Jamaica as we have international affiliate members, we have student members and we have members that are still in the process of applying for licensure and are under supervision, so please ASK QUESTIONS and SEEK INFORMATION so that you know you are in the right hands to receive appropriate care.
What can YOU do as a citizen?
We have received a lot of questions over the years about how to help people who essentially don’t want to be helped. It is a most frustrating and depressing experience to know and see someone struggling with mental health issues, someone near and dear to you, and not be able to convince them to do so. Our Mental Health Act (2009) which can be found in full here [https://moj.gov.jm/laws/mental-health-act] states very specific conditions under which someone can be hospitalized or treated involuntarily and the most important thing is that the person has to be a danger to him/her/themself and / or others and this application can be made by the nearest relative, a mental health officer, a public health nurse, or an approved social worker.
Otherwise, there’s no way we can force someone to get treatment when they do not consent to it. Consent is key. We can encourage, we can coax and we can beg and plead but we cannot make them do it as they will have to consent when they meet with the mental health / medical professional.
The best you can do as a concerned citizen/family member/friend is to gather the possible resources and options, consult with a mental health professional about strategies that you can use to perhaps encourage the person and we at JamPsych can help with those resources.
Dr. Kai Morgan is the Immediate Past President of the Jamaican Psychological Society. She is a Licensed Psychologist with a practice that includes 10 Associate Psychologists in Jamaica