With a population of 65,000 the Cayman Islands has an estimated 4,000 people afflicted with mental health issues, to one degree or another. A report in 2017, said the incidence of mental disorders in the islands grew by 67 percent between 2006 and 2016. Mental health providers are also seeing a need for more long term services as there has been a significant increase in the number of people with suicidal behaviour and substance abuse issues. Dr. Marc Lockhart, chairman of the Cayman Islands Mental Health Commission, said “the number of self harm cases are increasing and we’re seeing large numbers of [intentional] overdose cases.”
Currently, the few residential resources available are at capacity and cannot handle the increase demand so those who in need have to go off island. Patients are sent abroad for treatment either in Jamaica or the United States. Many others who require treatment but cannot be transferred abroad as they are unable to obtain visas because of criminal convictions, are treated in the eight bed mental health unit at the Cayman Islands public hospital in George Town, or cared for by family members, often under difficult circumstances. Now ground has been broken on 15 acres of government land for a long-planned, dedicated, residential facility in the East End of the island that can accommodate up to 54 patients. The new facility will be funded and managed by the ministry of health is expected to be completed by 2021.