Black Immigrant Daily News
More than half (53 per cent) of men in Jamaica have been experiencing varying levels of depression during the post-COVID-19 period, according to an islandwide study conducted by Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in October and November 2022.
The levels of depression recorded were 41 per cent mild, eight per cent moderate and four per cent severe, the university said in a release.
The study, titled Assessing Depression in Jamaican Males: Post-COVID-19, further revealed that nearly 10 per cent of the 1,066 adult males surveyed attempted to take their own life or had thoughts of doing so or wished they were dead. Another 25 per cent felt their life was not worth living. The survey findings have a plus/minus 3 per cent margin of error, the release said.
According to the NCU study, depression can be defined as a mood disorder which is associated with feelings of sadness and loss of interest, which negatively affects how one feels, thinks, and behaves. Depression results in a disruption of various aspects of daily living and may present itself in times of stress, crises, or conflicting events; if not treated promptly, it can affect one’s functioning.
The World Health Organization has indicated that depression affects approximately 3.8 per cent of the world’s population (280 million people), noting that 75 per cent of people in low-and-middle-income nations go untreated for this mental health disorder.
Further analysis of the NCU research findings revealed that the desire to be dead was more pronounced among younger men (eight per cent of the 18-21 years old cohort along with eight per cent of men 22-25 years of age). Nearly six per cent of men aged 26-29 years, and five per cent of those ages 30+ years old expressed the sentiment.
These findings reflect the view of the World Health Organization that “the pandemic has affected the mental health of young people and that they are disproportionally at risk of suicidal and self-harming behaviours.”
Paul Bourne, interim director of Institutional Research at the Mandeville-based university said the study “has brought a preview of the mental health challenges experienced by Jamaican males, and this speaks to a silent killer that is being nurtured in the minds of these individuals.”
He suggested that the prolonged lockdown of the Jamaican economy has aided in deteriorating the mental health condition of men, and this concurs with the literature. It is, therefore, understandable why health professionals had recommended that policymakers bolster mental health outreach during the pandemic.
“This study goes further to recommend that those outreaches be extended to the post-COVID-19 period, as difficulties experienced during the pandemic have not dissipated with the declaration of the end of the epidemic,” Bourne noted.
According to the NCU research team, the current study has unearthed the mental health status of Jamaican males, yet there are no empirical studies post-COVID-19 on their healthcare-seeking behaviour.
Jamaicans can contact the Ministry of Health’s mental health and suicide prevention helpline at 888-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for mental health support.