Cook Islands Looks To Reduce Stigma Of Mental Illness

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Center launches outreach program to create awareness

By Atasa Bosevakaturaga

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 12, 2016) – In an effort to address mental health issues in the Cook Islands, Te Kainga Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre will organise an outreach programme at Te Upoko Enua hall in Amuri on Friday.

The programme aims to create more awareness of mental health problems and eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness.

With an estimated 1897people in the country suffering from some form of mental illness, the group says much more needs to be done to address the problems faced by an ever-increasing number of Cook Islanders with live with mental health issues.

Te Kainga’s volunteer Ana Ngauru Makara said the event would also be a good opportunity for participants to identify problems and solutions that they could work on including discrimination, stigma and the lack of medication, and them in cooperation with stakeholders.

"The programme aims to build a safe nation to help those who suffer from any form of mental illness and survivors of mental illnesses who face a lot of difficulty in trying to fit back in society."

Te Kainga’s chairwoman Mereana Taikoko said stress leading to mental illness adds to the number of "mental disorder" cases recorded in this country every year and is becoming a growing concern for health providers.

Te Kainga Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre’s ultimate aim is to create a Cook Islands where mental wellbeing is valued, recognized and understood, and where people have the most appropriate and effective mental health support and services to reach their potential.

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