Solomon Islands: A police officers comments begs the question whether there is a Mental Health Policy in place today
In an article in the Solomon Stat newspaper yesterday an unidentified police officer was quoted as saying, “It is very sad when the whole city is in lockdown, we realized we have a lot of mentally ill people living with us.”
The police officer’s comments came in respect of what he saw during his tour of duty during the 36 hour lockdown which commenced on Wednesday night.
The Solomon Star newspaper accompanied the article with a photo of a relatively young man, described as a “mental man,” walking through a Honiara street during the lockdown on Thursday.
It strikes me as very sad indeed that a lockdown has served to highlight the number of people with special needs in Honiara.
With the greatest respect I ask what is the extent of the situation in the Solomon Islands today, and not just in Honiara, with regard to the numbers suffering mental health concerns, and what care and possible treatment is available to them.
I believe a National Mental Health Policy was drafted in 2009 but I am not sure whether it was ever endorsed by the Cabinet.
I know, too, a number of the population still turns to traditional healers or church leaders for purposes of healing, seeking help from Western medicine only after all other alternatives in the community have been exhausted.
Is there still a long way to go before mental health services are available, affordable and accessible to the whole population, including people living in geographically remote areas?
From 2012 to 2014, the Solomon Islands Integrated Mental Health service worked with Asia-Australia Mental Health to build workforce capacity and deliver sustainable community mental health programs and emphasised the importance of greater community ownership and involvement in community-based mental health care, and of moving from centralised services to increased local and accessible care.