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Decolonization of Psychiatric Public Policy in Jamaica

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Involuntary commitment and custodialization were the principal tenets of British colonial public policy provisions for the management of the violent, disturbed mentally ill in Jamaica and the West Indies. Over the fifty years following Jamaica’s political independence from Britain, a community engagement mental health programme has developed through a decolonization process that has negated involuntary certification, incarceration and custodialization, has promoted family therapy and short stay treatment in conventional primary and secondary care health facilities, and has promoted reliance on traditional and cultural therapies that have been extremely successful in the treatment of mental illness and the reduction of stigma in Jamaica. Collaborations involving The University of the West Indies, the Jamaican Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization have been seminal in the development of the decolonizing of public policy initiatives, negating the effects of involuntary certification that had been imposed on the population by slavery and colonization. This collaboration also catalysed the psychiatric training of medical, nursing and mental health practitioners and the execution of community mental health policy in Jamaica.

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e-Published: 21 Aug, 2013
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