CIG crawls towards mental health facility

| 27/04/2015 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Government officials have said that there are around 40 people in Cayman suffering from mental health issues who are in need of long-term residential care but the country still has nowhere to house them. However, the process to create a local facility is now underway, officials said. At present, around half of diagnosed patients are treated overseas with others either in jail or being treated in the community because of previous criminal records.

But Cayman has many more patients who have not been properly diagnosed, many of whom are self-medicating with alcohol or illegal drugs.

Government has a very poor track record when it comes to addressing mental health needs but this week it announced the creation of another committee of public and private sector stakeholders to work on a business case. The Long Term Residential Mental Health Facility (LTRMHF) Steering Committee will be looking to justify the cost and ensure the plans meet the requirements of the UK’s Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR).

“With this facility, the Cayman Islands government may see savings over the long haul and, more importantly, our mental health patients overseas would be able to come home to be treated in their own country with family and friends and our local patients would have the dignity of care afforded to them,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is also minister of health.

An ad hoc committee was formed last year but the steering committee was only recently formed and met for the first time just last month. During that first official meeting on Thursday 19 March, members examined the process for a Strategic Outline Case (SOC) process and the initial draft prepared by the ad hoc committee. Officials said the SOC document provides a situational analysis and background information about the proposed project and provides stakeholders with an early indication of what is being considered in moving forward.

Many patients are currently unable to access overseas care because of criminal records or other social problems but successive governments have neglected the need for a local facility. Time and time again, local judges have urged government leaders to address the problem as they struggle to deal with mental health patients who have become permanent fixtures in the criminal justice system. Sentenced to prison, where the care for such patients is woefully inadequate and where people suffering from recognized mental health conditions are being criminalized, once released they often re-offend almost immediately.

It is also well documented in a number of reports that many inmates in HMP Northward are suffering from mental illnesses that have never been diagnosed.

As government crawls towards the development of the facility, the steering committee will examine the costs involved for a centre offering treatment and care from a multidisciplinary team of experts. The goal will be to help people recover and return to independent living and reintegration back in the community.

With many mental health  patients being treated in Jamaica and in the United States, among the expected benefits this facility would enable patients to be close to their family and friends, and remaining in their own community will keep them connected to a social structure and quality of life. The proximity of the patient to their family facilitates opportunities to mend family dynamics, as well as to change to a healthier lifestyle with the support of family.  It would also facilitate appropriate aftercare for the patient and their family, including ongoing support and clinical resources.

Committee members include: Chief Officer of the Ministry of Health Jennifer Ahearn, Chief Officer of the Ministry of Community Affairs Dorine Whittaker, Chief Officer of the Ministry of Education, Employment, and Gender Affairs Christen Suckoo, Deputy Chief Officer of the Ministry of Health Nancy Barnard, Deputy Chief Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs Kathryn Dinspell-Powell, RCIPS Superintendent Kurt Walton, RCIPS representative Claudia Brady, Ministry of Finance representative Karen Rivers, Director of the Department of Counselling Services Judith Seymour, Clinical Supervisor Esther Taylor, Chairman of the Mental Health Commission Dr Marc Lockhart, Director of the Public Works Department Max Jones, Senior Policy Advisor for Health Janett Flynn, and Kerry Ann Phillips, who is the legal representative from the private sector.


For more information on the Long Term Residential Mental Health Facility Strategic Plan email h&  FAQ responses and further information will be posted as the project progresses on

Cayman News Service

Members of the Long Term Residential Mental Health Facility (LTRMHF) Steering Committee


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Category: Health, Medical Health

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Utter nonsense my friend… you forget to mention ALL the hardworking low income wage folk that look after and clean after our children in schools, clean after us in our homes, pubs and restaurants…it’s on their backs that cayman truly remains such a treat for the all the lazy a** “middle class” people i see around.

  2. Driftwood says:

    With the greatest respect to those that are ill and in need, we already have a mental asylum, although not sure too many more can fit in. It’s where all our elected representatives meet…

  3. Anonymous says:

    If there was a law for this a very good friend of mine wouldn’t be going to court for ABH and attempted murder for attempting to defend himself from an attach launched by one of these 40. God knows how many others may have suffered the same fortune all because the Police don’t know what to do with people with mental health problems. The day can’t come soon enough that this long-known issue in Cayman is dealt with.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, many administrators and not a single Mental Health Nurse, who will be the people actually running this facility, day in and day out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Utilization of RP-Sally remote presence telemedicine, donated for the people of the Cayman Islands by the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association, is the solution and can address the needs of the 40 persons requiring mental health overseas care + all prisoners mental health care by direct access to mental health telemedicine specialists as well as to all catastrophic specialty services needed by all persons living and visiting the Cayman Islands. This is the solution which best addresses the needs, immediate access, and resultant cost containment so direly needed by CIG to address the rising costs of healthcare.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good news everyone! There are only 40 people with a mental health issue! A bit worrying that the actual steering committee doesn’t acknowledge the natural prevalence and broad spectrum of mental health struggles. 18.6% of the US population will have or live with a mental health struggle and less than half of those will be adequately diagnosed and/or treated. Applying that known metric (echoed by NAMI and others), we would logically have close to 20,000 needing help of some kind on the broad spectrum of afflictions. Perhaps 10,000-20,000 would be a believable baseline assumption for our population. The whole planet needs to start having a more sophisticated discussion on this topic – whether we want to acknowledge or not, it will affect us, or someone we love.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ensure there is maximum security for the prisoners which will be staying. The new way the criminals will try to get out of jail is pleading mental illness. Build a large area segregated from the rest to house them and make the sentences a minimum of what the judge lays down plus until cured of the illness or able to integrate independently.

    To identify and prevent in the first place, have every child on island assessed. Each child must go through a medical to enter school and has an eye test and hearing test. Do a mental health check up.

    Remove the dump. Sell it and ship it elsewhere to whoever wants to buy it. I bet the toxins from there is causing a lot of these illnesses. Don’t forget a lot of ppl drink well water and cistern water. If the toxins from the dump are leaking into the water table, everyone is poisoning themselves. If the toxins are getting in the air and the rain is ‘capturing’ which then goes into the cistern, then these ppl are also getting poisoned. Let’s think this through.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Billions of dollars pass through this island every year, more and more expensive cars on the road and politicians are only busy with their personal issues.
    And still there is no money for the weakest in this society ???
    I am disgusted by this so called christian mentality..

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no Billions that pass through the Cayman Islands. The assets that are ledgered to tax neutral entities that are formed and registered here, actually stay in the overseas custodians of New York, London, Hong Kong, etc, and those assets have never belonged to the people of the Cayman Islands. More often than not, those assets belong to the taxpayers, endowment funds, and pension plans of the free world. This misplaced Robin Hood/Pirate attitude is perpetuated by two-bit politicians that are incapable of comprehending the principle of fiduciary responsibility. There is nothing Christian about stealing someone else’s money.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok, then it is simple greed . . .and not giving a f.. for the weaker people around you.

        • Anonymous says:

          You have it all wrong. There are old Caymanian families worth hundreds of millions that don’t give two spits for their countrymen. They don’t build parks, donate land, build schools or churches, or lend their service. They have quietly built these fortunes on the backs of every man woman and child in this land; yet many are absent from local philanthropy drives, even after natural disasters in the Brac and elsewhere. To me it’s laughable that the migrant middle class financial services workers are targeted as “the rich folk” that should give time and again. Ironically it is they that provide their service, organize, and populate every charity fundraiser this land has ever seen. They are collectively the net contributors to Cayman, and the people that make this an appealing place to call home.

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