Whither CUMI?

Nurse Joy Crooks

Sashane Shakes

  • Crooks’ exit draws near

With the steadily increasing number of mentally challenged and homeless persons on the streets of the resort city of Montego Bay, there are grave concerns for their wellbeing with the imminent departure of their main benefactor, Nurse Joy Crooks.

This is coupled with the financial, staffing and other challenges facing the main institution championing their cause, the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill, CUMI.

Nurse Crooks, founder/administrator at CUMI, is slated to leave Jamaica this year to reside abroad and it’s now a scramble as to who will fill those large altruistic shoes.

A cause of major concern, which further highlights the number of the good deeds done by Crooks, is the limited and waning number of individuals qualified to care for the mentally challenged. This indeed affects the efficiency at CUMI, as she recently revealed that the institution currently has a team consisting of only five persons – a cook, a security officer, two nurses, one of whom is trained in dealing with mental illness, and Crooks.

While CUMI can be credited as one of the focal points of bringing forth the awareness and acceptance of mental illness, it can’t manage the issue alone in the West and it certainly will suffer a significant blow when Crooks leaves. The organization, having provided service for over 27 years, had Crooks as a founder, administrator and voice of the less fortunate and mentally challenged.

Studies show that the causes of mental health conditions in Jamaicans are due to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, substance abuse and mania. Also, the rate of depression is higher among Jamaicans than Guyanese (7.4% vs. 4.1%). Social and economic factors also play a critical role in the continuously rising disorder, especially considering that persons have fallen on harsh economic times.

With the increase in mentally challenged persons roaming the streets, particularly in the urban areas of Montego Bay, there is worry as to who will take over, unashamedly, care for the victims of the invisible gun – mental illness.


It has become troublesome as homeless persons are relocating to the Hip Strip area and this could severely impact the tourism product as visitors are increasingly avoiding the area in order to steer clear of them.

CUMI, under the care of Nurse Crooks, has had several success stories of mentally challenged persons who have made a turnaround. Two persons in particular are Lukey and Winston. Winston, who was very unstable and had trips in and out of the institution, is now fully rehabilitated and has been able to hold a job for the past sixteen years.

The search, which started last year in order to decipher who will take over from Crooks when she departs to live in London this year, is yet to put forth an individual as selfless, committed and giving as her.



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