Mental health stigma

YOUNG Fijians are not making mental health a priority, says Youth Champs 4 Mental Health president Lionel Rogers.

Mr Rogers said a lot of their work involved helping youths understand that St Giles was not just for those with serious mental illness but also a place for those who sought counselling.

“People still see mental illness as traditional disease, for instance, if you go to St Giles for counselling, you’re a mad person, and if you taking pills, you’re a mad person, if you talk to someone, you are a mad person and that stigma hangs over mental illness,” he said.

“A lot of young people, when we tell them to go to St Giles for counselling, they say no we don’t want to go there, because that’s mad house, what would people think of me, my reputation and it affects them and we’ve tried since our inception in 2008 to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health.”

He added there had also been an increase in cyber bullying prompting advocates to work harder in eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicides.

“Cyber bullying has increased rapidly and it is no longer just about gender, it’s on religion, it’s on your background, it’s who you are and it’s grown so much.

“It’s hard reporting cases to the police because in order to report cyber bullying cases, you need to be in Suva, you need to go to their certain department to lodge the complaint.”

Mr Rogers said in the past five years there had been 1999 recorded cases of attempted and completed suicide of which 56 per cent were men and 46 per cent were women.

“Majority of the people who we hold our workshops with have been bullied online and probably a small percentage 10-15 per cent have thought of suicide as a way to get out of that because of their dignity, because of their pride, because they don’t want their families to find out what they do.”

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