Monday, July 21, 2008

Fiji works toward more acceptance of people with mental illness

From the Fiji Times on July 18:

The Ministry of Health is targeting a goal of greater acceptance and understanding of metal illness within the local society to stop the stigma that is associated with it.

Launching the 'Stop Stigma against Mental Illiness - Dare to Care' campaign at Ratu Sukuna Park today, the Director of Fiji Health Sector Improvement Program (FHSIP), Dr Vilikesa Rabukawaqa, said the campaign was given priority so that patients and the community can work together and seek prompt medical assistance and support.

"Unless we take away the stigma associated with being mentally ill, supporting initiatives of outreach services and ongoing education stand a poor chance of making a sustainable impact in the area of Mental Health," he said.

The social marketing campaign uses data, results and feed back from areas of the Mental Health programs in Fiji, including services offered at Saint Giles Hospital, post graduate training courses at Fiji School of Nursing and also Community Psychiatric Nursing and Training to bring home key messages.

FHSIP is an Australian Government, AusAID initiative, which has worked with the Ministry of Health since 2003 to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry in order to improve the quality of health services in Fiji.

Overall approaches to stop stigma against mental illness involves
programs of advocacy, public education, and contact with persons with mental
illness through community groups, schools and other societal institutions.