Club helps feed rehab’s mental health clients

| 26/07/2014

(CNS): Although the Cayman Islands authorities are facing some pressing issues concerning the treatment of and support for the mentally ill, the Department of Community Rehabilitation recently received a donation from a local service club to help keep their clients fed. The Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman (RCGC) has for the second year provided brown paper-bagged meals to the department to give to its clients. DCR Director Teresa Echenique-Bowen said the club's contribution to help adult offenders diagnosed with mental illness demonstrated how the wider community can help make a difference in the system. RCGC has provided 25 meals a month on average to people appearing before the special Mental Health Court.

“This is an excellent example of how service organisations and government entities can work together to benefit our community," Echenique-Bowen said. "It is important for us to realise that community needs are not the sole responsibility of government, but to call for a holistic approach and collaboration to make a difference in our Islands."

She invited other interested service clubs and private sector organisations to contact DCR if they can also offer help to the mental health court, its clients or other programmes and services.

Rotaract President Stephanie Rattan explained why the club got involved: "We saw the need and were happy to assist. Our members look forward every month to packing the lunches with inspirational quotes and sayings, then handing them over to the clients.” 

DCR had launched the Brown Paper Bag drive in 2010 to provide the meals but the Rotaract Club of Grand Cayman (RCGC) took over the initiative in July 2013 and continues to provide the monthly lunches. The club members pack them in brown paper bags decorated with creative and inspiring messages and take them to DCR on the day the court is held so that they can be distributed to mental health clients when they leave. Each meal consists of a drink, chips, cookie, fruit and either a sandwich or a pattie.

Government officials explained that in response to an increasing number of adults with mental health illnesses appearing before the criminal justice system, DCR had proposed the idea of a multi-disciplinary approach to best meet the needs of these individuals and to develop treatment plans to enable community-based supervision.

With the support of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie and former Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale, mental health court services were implemented in 2009. Clients attend court on Wednesdays once a month. 

The court has a structured treatment team including magistrate, prosecutor, defence attorney, probation, prison and mental health officers, including a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a mental health community nurse. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as well as the Counselling Centre are other key agencies that provide services to meet clients’ needs as they arise.

At court sittings the offenders receive acknowledgement and recognition when they are doing well but are held accountable when they are not. Treatment has proven to be more effective and efficient when emphasis is placed on rewarding and praising persons for their achievements.

DCR is responsible for providing social inquiry reports, case status updates, and bail monitoring for the court, as well as supervision of orders from the court and the facilitation of various group services.

Prior to every court session, the team discusses the progress and treatment plan of each individual client. The supervision of these clients is primarily carried out by DCR and mental health community nurses. It entails frequent contact with their family and social support at home or at work, liaison with key agencies such as substance abuse treatment providers and DCFS and making appropriate referrals to treatment providers, the National Workforce Development Agency and the DCFS.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "while people are robbing for food". That is not happening. They are robbing for drugs and alcohol which are all the food they want.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a very good guesture.  On another note I am wondering if the general public see what takes place at closing time at the supermarkets and fast food places like KFC and BK and the gas stations.

    Well let me tell you.  Please go there at closing time and observe what is taking  place around the back  of these places with good food being taken  of the shelves.   It is sad, while people are robbing for food.