Ebenezer Rehabilitation Centre brings awareness to mental illness and rehabilitation
Mental illness is a major public health problem in Jamaica. One in four persons will struggle with mental health at some point in their lives. And with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the troubled economy, many are in crisis right now. More than ever, people need a trustworthy place to turn to for guidance, support, and hope, where they can heal and learn how to manage their illness and any addictions through a residential rehabilitation programme without being shunned or stigmatised.
Ebenezer Rehabilitation Centre (ERC) for the mentally challenged and/or homeless is a registered charitable organisation that provides a safe, caring environment for mentally ill and homeless men from Manchester, St Elizabeth, and Clarendon. Access to the programme may be facilitated through hospitals, the justice system, community mental health services, families and friends, or concerned citizens. Currently, there is space for 22 men. ERC is a unique and much-needed mental health facility.
LONG-TERM STABILITY AND INDEPENDENCE
“The Dual Diagnosis Rehabilitation Programme offered by ERC is the first step to long-term stability and independence for our clients,” says Operations Manager Paulette Wheeler. “The primary focus of the programme is for clients to beat alcohol or drug addiction whilst receiving treatment for mental illness in a supported residential setting.”
With an array of integrated services offered that focus on developing positive life skills that can be used to achieve personal goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle free from addiction, the rehabilitation process is closely monitored by a psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, dental team, and dietician. The programme also offers assistance with academic programmes for CXC and skills training as well as the opportunity to learn to read and write. Employment training is also available with career guidance. “These learning opportunities provide clients with solid tools for securing a job,” says Wheeler.
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
Exercise and social interaction are important for mental and physical health so, during the client’s time on the programme, they can enjoy fitness activities, such as team sports, workouts, and other opportunities for getting and staying physically fit. Art, music, quizzes, dominoes, and other creative options are also available because recreational activity and creativity are part of a healthy lifestyle.
To assist with the tough economic challenges faced by ERC, livestock rearing and crop farming have been introduced with the dual aim of reducing the overall operational cost while providing useful rehabilitation and psychotherapy for the clients. The clients with supervision raise goats, cows, chickens, and layers in addition to a cash crop farm and a greenhouse with a nursery.
ERC receives a subvention from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and assistance from the Southern Regional Health Authority with staffing costs. Donations are given from the diaspora, church groups, and local businesses.
“With the current mental health crisis which exists in Jamaica, we would like to expand ERC to enable us to reach out and give assistance to more men who desperately need our help and support. So be bold and partner with us to stamp out the stigma of mental illness. You can help us in a variety of ways: help us with our fundraising efforts, medical supplies; sponsor a client, social work, donations can be in cash or kind,” said Wheeler.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, will be the guest speaker at ERC’s fundraising dinner, to be held on Saturday, June 25 at 6 p.m. at St John Bosco Banquet Hall in Hatfield, Manchester. The MC will be Mr Dervan Malcolm of Power 106 FM.
It is hoped that the dinner will raise much-needed funds to support our flagship rehabilitation programme and operational costs, and also bring awareness to mental illness and homelessness.