THE subject of “Mental Health” is one of the least talked about in both the rural and at the national level in the Solomon Islands. This is one of the major contributing factors why people are not fully aware of the subject itself.
National Head of Mental Health, Dr Paul Orotoloa revealed this to Solomon Star yesterday.
Dr Orotoloa said, that it is because of the subject not being discussed freely and openly that people have limited knowledge on how to take care of mentally ill patients in the communities.
He also added with the still relatively high illiteracy rate in the country, people have limited understanding about the whole subject of mental health as a whole.
“I believe that a vast majority of Solomon Islanders do have some form of knowledge and experience regarding the subject of mental health, yet there remains a mismatch on the level of understanding people have on the matter.
“Take for instance, Solomon Islands still has an illiteracy rate of up to 20-30 percent that in my view is still regarded as high. The level of understanding people will have on mental health depends entirely on how well they choose to learn and know more of the subject itself.
“The more you know of mental health, the more you understand its implications and impacts within both the community and national levels,” Dr Orotoloa said.
Dr Orotoloa said, that his team from the Mental Health Division of the National Referral Hospital are more than capable of carrying out awareness programs that could fit in well with the Ministry of Health’s policy of having services provided to mentally ill patients be community oriented.
“With the proper funding and support given to us, we can conduct awareness programs and better advocate and educate our communities about Mental Health, especially as a vast majority of our clients (patients) reside in the communities,” he said.
He said that up to 80 percent of all mentally ill patients reside in the communities, adding that his team had already began a community based program that would help in the rehabilitation of patient, however adding that unless proper assistance is given to them, then Solomon Islands will continue to face the problem of not taking good care of its mentally ill citizens.
By JEREMY INIFIRI