The Ministry of Health and Wellness has assigned the first set of Reach Out Rangers to its COVID-19 Mental Health Response Programme, to assist community members who are facing psychosocial challenges.
Speaking at a virtual graduation for 30 persons, yesterday, portfolio Minister, Christopher Tufton, said another 50 personnel will also be added.
He noted that over the coming months, the initiative will be strengthened with more persons.
The Minister explained that the programme was developed in response to the “emergent need” for such a support, especially among the older population who have been restricted in their movements, and students who have to remain at home, to control COVID-19.
“All of those represent a way of life that oftentimes facilitate mental health challenges,”
Dr Tufton said, adding that there is an increase in mental disorders and depression globally, due to lockdown measures associated with COVID-19.
As a result, the Minister said “special arrangements” had to be made to preserve the mental health of those who need the support.
He encouraged the first batch of Reach Out Rangers to approach the task of helping their fellow Jamaicans with diligence.
“It is an important step you have made,” he said to the Jamaica Red Cross trained personnel, emphasising that they will be walking billboards in their communities, as their T-shirts will identify them with messages on how persons can get help. “The message is simple, reach out, integrate yourselves in the communities, use your training to assess where the issues are, offer a listening ear, give some guidance, make recommendations, and give support where it is necessary,”
the Minister said.
Where it is necessary, the Rangers will make referrals of persons who need attention from professionals at health centres.
Dr Tufton reported that response to join the programme has been “overwhelming,”
with over 150 persons so far requesting to offer their services. They are currently being vetted.