The Church has a duty to care and give support to hurting people – says Adventist Leader

Written by: Phillip E. L. Castell, Director, Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Thursday, October 11, 2018

The North Street SDA Church was the venue for the Kingston Public Hospital’s  (KPH) Inaugural Church Service to celebrate  the 243rd Anniversary of mental health  service to Jamaica. The service was held on October 6, 2018  to mark the beginning of World Mental Health Week which this year had as its theme : ‘Young people and Mental Health in a changing world.’

President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Pastor Everett Brown, was the guest speaker and expressed delight at the opportunity of addressing the church on the matter of mental health on this special occasion.

In his message to the church, Pastor Brown quoted from a news article published in the Jamaica Observer of Wednesday May 24, 2017 where one health professional was quoted as saying “three to four out of every ten Jamaicans have some type of psychiatric or mental disorder.”  In the same article, it was pointed out that from one study done in 2011 it was discovered that forty percent of the population suffer from a type of mental illness.

“Disorder and diseases of the brain impact our lives, families, church,

and communities, the country every day,” added Brown.  “It is believed by some persons in the mental health profession that one in every five persons will be impacted by   mental health challenges every year and we are told that within the next ten years, the mental health problems will either be doubled or tripled based on research."

According to the top pastor of the SDA Church in Jamaica, conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders will affect many in our homes, church, workplaces and community. In spite of the challenges that people will face with illness, Brown described God as “gracious, kind and merciful” and said it was not God’s intention for people to be inflicted with illnesses.

In conveying the interest God has in our physical health and wellbeing, the preacher of righteousness used 3 John 2 which says “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health just as your soul prospers.”

The man of God was emphatic in his presentation when he declared that it was not God’s intention to punish anyone with illness.

“I have discovered in my studies of the revealed word of God that it was not the desire or intention of our God for anyone to be punished with any form or shape of illness,” said Pastor Brown during his presentation. He drew upon the scripture passage in 3 John 2 to say that “God wants us to be healthy and to prosper.”  

While not being able to give the medical reasons for sickness and diseases, Brown concluded that sin is the underlying cause for all ailments.

 “I believe our suffering comes as a result of an underlying cause which is sin, and today, the church in particular and society in general cannot afford to ignore people who are suffering with mental illness. We must respond as Jesus would, to those we pass by. They are our brothers and sisters created in the image of God,” said the man of God.  

Speaking on the role of the church to people with mental health challenges, the top Adventist pastor said “the church has a duty to care, a duty to serve and support and to minister to people who are hurting, suffering and in need. If the church, does not respond to hurting people, then we would have abdicated our call and failed our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” Brown said.

“This mental health week must not only serve to sensitize the church and family with members who suffer from mental illness, but the entire nation must be  sensitized to our responsibility in caring for those who are in need,” added Brown.

Dr. Judith Lieba -Thomas, Director, Child and Adolescence Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, brought greetings on behalf of Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton and read a message on his behalf.

In his message the Health Minister said “with the advent of technology, the world has become a global village such that young people are exposed whether directly or indirectly to trauma, human rights violations, and conflicts, violence in and outside of their homes, schools and places of work. They are also spending more time on the internet and social media and some of them are also experiencing cyber-crimes.

The Minister invited Jamaicans to redouble their efforts to safeguard the mental health of our young people recognizing that there is no good health without good mental health.

Dr. Terrence Bernard, Psychiatrist at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH), brought greetings on behalf of the CEO of KPH and gave the overview and history behind the hospitals 243 year association with the care of mental health.    

Dr. Bernard disclosed that the Kingston Public Hospital was established in 1776 and it was the government’s first effort at providing public health care for the Jamaican people.

According to Bernard, the hospital erected a lunatic asylum and a home

for the aged at the same location but a series of scandals rocked the lunatic asylum which resulted in the facility being removed to another location and subsequently to the Bellevue Hospital in 1862.


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