Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network

The Jamaica Flagship Site leveraged the research infrastructure and stakeholder relationships that were developed from prior projects such as the STRiDE initiative. It was implemented in the private healthcare system in the Kingston, St. Andrew and St. Catherine parishes and via direct-to-consumer recruitment drives in communities, with a focus on patients 60 and older. The research team functioned as Brain Health Navigators, completing the digital cognitive assessments, and coordinating the blood and ECG tests for reversible causes of impairment with local laboratories and medical facilities. The post screening care pathway and management was co-developed between the research team and the health and allied care practitioners whose patients participated in the initiative.

See Key Lessons

Site Leads

Ishtar Govia

Ishtar Govia

Managing Director of the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network, Program Lead for the DAC-SP Flagship program in Jamaica.

Key Partners

  • Caribbean College of Family Physicians - Jamaica
  • Association of General Practitioners of Jamaica
  • The Jamaican Psychological Society 
  • The Jamaica Psychiatric Association 
  • Healthy Caribbean Coalition
  • Caribbean Community of Retired Persons
  • Caribbean Alliance of National Psychological Associations
  • Kiwanis Foundation of Jamaica 
  • Lions International – Lion Club of Downtown Kingston
  • University of the Commonwealth Caribbean
  • Speech & Swallow Rehab / Therapy Jamaica
  • MINT Memory Clinic
  • Women’s Brain Project
  • Mobi-Care

What are the key lessons learned from the site?


Creating pathways to get people into the healthcare system.

In Jamaica, this program represented a novel care pathway with emerging infrastructure. To ensure the program was appropriate to the local context and accessible to patients, the Site Lead leveraged partnerships with local health and civil society organizations. An unanticipated barrier to the feasibility of the program was the cost of tests for reversible causes which would have been prohibitive for patients to cover out of pocket. The site lead was able to secure additional funds to overcome this barrier.

Goal 1: Evaluate your healthcare system context.


Leveraging early-stage health and allied professionals.

To help support staffing and operationalizing the program, the Jamaica site leveraged many health and allied professionals in the early stage of their careers. Some were medical professionals, and some were undergraduates trained in psychology. These early career professionals were looking for applied research experiences outside of the typical academic environment. They functioned in many on-the-ground roles, including serving dual roles as researchers and brain health navigators for the program.

Goal 8: Assemble your project team.


Building relationships with community organizations to raise awareness.

The Jamaica site invested in building relationships with key community organizations, such as places of worship and community leaders, to raise awareness about the importance of brain health and healthy aging. The site built trust with the local partner organizations over a long period, in many cases prior to the start of the DAC-SP initiative, understanding the community’s needs for healthy aging in each community context. This approach helped meet potential patients where they were.

Goal 12: Develop a patient recruitment plan.


Using the research staff roles flexibly.

Many primary care providers found it challenging to incorporate the new workflow for the early detection program as they were pressed for time with other priorities when seeing a patient. The Jamaica site was able to use their research assistants in a flexible way (akin to Brain Health Navigators) to support the implementation of the program and address bottlenecks in primary care workflow.

Goal 8: Assemble your project team.