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Raising mental issues

Mere Naleba
Monday, April 07, 2014

EIGHT volunteers of the NGO Youth Champs 4 Mental Health (YC4MH) took to the streets of Suva on Saturday to experience first-hand what the people they vouch for experience every day.

The volunteers took part in a 24-hour street campaign which also featured them spending the night on pavements in the city.

The purpose of the campaign is to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues and change the mind-set of individuals who consider mental health patients unworthy.

During the 24-hour campaign, eight volunteers led by YC4MH manager mentee Lionel Rogers, had duct tape over their mouths in a sign of protest against the general perception that psychiatric survivors and people living with mental illness were considered citizens of lower standing.

Mr Rogers and his peers took to the streets with placards reading messages promoting the eradication of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

YC4MH member Laisani Rakula said the campaign was a lead-up to the World Health Day to be celebrated globally tomorrow.

"Our main concern in doing this is to educate people to silence the stigma associated with mental health," she said.

"And to get people to talk about their mental health status or the difficulties and challenges they go through in order for people living with mental illness to access services."

Ms Rakula said because mental health patients and survivors were discriminated against, they could not access these services.

"Most times they do not even attempt to access services because they are scared of what people might say."

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