No-movement days’ impact on the mental health of Jamaicans

Woman cryng
Woman cryng (Photo credit: Claudia Wolff)

The consistent ‘no-movement days’ in Jamaica is a breeding ground for unstable mental health. Dr Jordon Eaton, psychiatrist and senior medical resident at the University Hospital of the West Indies shared that “biologically, humans are social creatures and they naturally require interaction with one another.”

Dr Eaton opined that these no-movement days could cause long-term effects on the mental health of the people that could result in depressive and psychotic disorders where people might start to have illusions and imagine that they had superpowers. For the past 18 months Dr Eaton has seen over 50 people who had no history of mental illness that were now suffering from anxiety and depression.  He further stated that the hectic conditions in the town areas were overwhelming due to crowds, as people rushed to get their necessities in the four days’ time span.

Kevin Allen, psychiatrist and supervisor for the mental facilities in Clarendon noted that one’s daily routine and job contribute to their mental health, and lately people were concerned about their source of income. Therefore, no-movement days were causing negative effects on the mental health of people.

Allen acknowledged that lockdown days were intended to reduce the number of positive COVID-19 cases. As data from the World Health Organization showed that for the past two weeks there had been a decline in cases. In the week of 5-7 September 2021, the numbers of active COVID-19 cases moved from 687 to 643 to 837 and the following week from 12-14 September 2021 active cases declined from 563 to 594 to 536.

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Allen said patients could suffer a relapse and might have to seek hospitalization. As the no-movement days have prevented over 500 patients in May Pen and over 200 patients from Spaulding from getting their monthly psychiatric management sessions.

Shania Morgan thinks people are depressed as the no-movement days are preventing them from going out to ‘hustle’ for their families, “salaries are being cut as they are only working three days a week. The cost of living has raised and purchasing food is making people depressed.” The no-movement days have had no effect on her as she does not have a lot of errands to run but has had to push back some of her plans.

Javanie Wright, fourth-year Caribbean Maritime University student says the lockdown “feels like you’re in prison, you are free but not free at the same time.” Wright normally goes to movies to overcome his loneliness but knows that he has to follow the government’s protocols. Wright used to take walks and play dominoes with four of his friends to keep himself sane.

Karen Buddo, self-employed, states that after being at home for most of the time, no-movement days have made her fearful of going out. The overcrowding of public transportation and long lines at business places are facilitating the spread of the virus. She says her children are always home and they have not shown any sign of depression, however to overcome their boredom at times they eat more.

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