Mental Health month launched; Fijians urged to use available facilities

Minister for Health Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete. Picture: FIJI GOVT/FACEBOOK

Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete launched the 2021 National Mental Health Month today.

The Mental Health Month theme ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, Dr Waqainabete says reflects the need to ensure equity in access to mental health and suicide prevention for all Fijians.

He said that mental health and suicide had always been a challenge for the country before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a nation, we’ve fought hard to this day, but unfortunately, some of us lose close family members and friends that should have been here otherwise,” Dr Waqainabete said at the virtual launch.

“I understand those moments to be catastrophic, moments of mental destabilisation not only to you but to all your family members. However, you fought through courageously and I salute your courage and resilience

“An ambitious task now lies ahead. Through this theme, we aim to work together, through our membership and beyond, to create a movement of preventative action, with sustained messaging to drive behaviour change and ultimately prevent more suicides.”

The Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic had further highlighted the effects of inequality on health outcomes and no nation, however rich, had been fully prepared for it.

“There have been multiple advocacy campaigns in response to the pandemic aired through the airwaves in all vernaculars to ensure people understand the issues of mental health, especially during this difficult time.”

He urged Fijians nationwide to use the various platforms available for assistance in the fight against mental health and suicide.

Fijians can access assistance and advice through the following numbers:

  • Lifeline Fiji – 1543;
  • Telehealth – 165
  • National Domestic violence helpline – 1560
  • Child Helpline – 1325
  • Empower Pacific – 5626
  • Medical Services Pacific – 5640, and
  • Alcoholics Anonymous – 9392190.

The Mental Health awareness month will run from September to October this year.

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