Mental Health Awareness Programme
The Mental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to roll out mental health awareness program to the citizens of Fiji.
Last week, 35 Investigators from the Fiji Police undertook training on mental health awareness and the Mental Health Decree (2010). Police officers are often first point of contact when there is a mental illness issue or case reported to them.
Such issues include self-harm or attempted suicide, someone with a psychosis exhibiting confused or aggressive behaviour, or someone with an alcohol or drug problem being a public nuisance.
The Investigators had the opportunity to discuss their own mental health issues. They are often in positions of high stress and anxiety and have to deal with delicate or dangerous situations. All over the world there are police who experience personal problems such as post-traumatic stress disorders.
Many people may not realise that police officers have many responsibilities under the Mental Health Decree. As well as enforcing our laws they are required to assist health professionals, if requested, to manage and transport people with mental illness.
Often people with mental illness are required to be kept in police cells while waiting for transport to mental health facilities. Police have powers under the 2010 Decree to detain people whom they suspect of having a mental illness in a place of safety.
The training held last week is part of a collaboration between the Health Ministry and Fiji Police to help police by firstly, looking after their own mental health, secondly, knowing how to help people with a mental illness and thirdly having a good understanding of their rights and responsibilities according to the Mental Health Decree.
Meanwhile, those organisations and members of the public that wish to have a mental health awareness program can contact the Mental Health Team at the Wellness Unit, Ministry of Health & Medical Services.