Cook Islands Launches New 5-Year Mental Health Strategy

More than 1,000 Cook Islanders suffer from some type of mental health issue

By Losirene Lacanivalu 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 9, 2016) – More Than 1000 people in the Cook Islands are suffering from some kind of mental disorder.

Launching the Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy plan for 2016 to 2021 on Wednesday, Minister for Health Nandi Glassie confirmed an increasing number of people in the Cook Islands were being assessed with mental health problem..

“There is an estimated 437 people who suffer from severe mental disorder in the Cook Islands and a total of 1457 people suffer from mild to moderate forms of mental disorder,” Glassie said.

He said altogether there are 1,894 people in this country who suffer from some form of mental disorder but only 154 have received treatment in the Cook Islands.

However, if the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates of 2014 are taken into consideration, taking in all severities of mental disorders, then 350 people are receiving treatment.

Glassie said it was after the Pacific Islands Mental Health Network meeting in November 2014 that an action plan had been developed by the Cook Islands Mental Health team for a well-being policy.

“From there a strategy to implement objections of the policy was made and over the past two years the ministry in conjunction with various stakeholders drafted the nation’s mental health and well-being policy that was launched last year,” Glassie said.

He said the team had now progressed towards the strategy plan of 2016 to 2021, which was about ensuring mental health issues were addressed in the best way possible.

“This is an effort that can only be accomplished if we work together and given the presence of various stakeholders present at the launch; I feel that mental health will progress into the future.”

Glassie said the Cook Islands’ health information systems did not yet provide precise data on mental disorders, therefore the figures were only estimates.

Health secretary Elizabeth Iro said the ministry had been working on the strategy plan for quite some time.

“The public launch of the document will guide the ministry and relevant organisations  into some ways in which they can manage and deliver services in the Cook Islands.”

The mental health department did not have complete statistics because sometimes people with depression didn’t discuss their issues or talk with other people and were never treated, creating an information gap.

“By 2017 we are looking at working on a prevalent study and get accurate data and stats on this,” she said.

Meanwhile, Glassie is urging people to take care of their mental health and well-being and that of their families through taking time off, taking a break, having regular exercise - and plenty of laughter.

“Be happy and talk to one another. There is not health without mental health.”

Cook Islands News
Copyright © 2016 Cook Islands News. All Rights Reserved

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