Health professionals discuss mental health

Saturday February 06, 2016 Written by Published in Health
The Cook Islands Police department support the three day workshop with intensions to obtain further knowledge in dealing with mental health issues. 16020216 The Cook Islands Police department support the three day workshop with intensions to obtain further knowledge in dealing with mental health issues. 16020216

An array of mental health professionals gathered at the St Joseph’s Catholic Church hall last week for a three-day workshop to discuss mental health issues in the Cook Islands.


The main aim of the workshop was to establish a platform for raising the awareness for mental health issues, identifying the many effects it has and to offer the tools and skills for early detection and prevention.

Mereana Taikoko, Founder and director for Te Kainga mental health trust says that their focus was to ensure that those on the frontline dealing directly with Mental Health issues are equipped with the tools to correctly identify symptoms and to have the proper skills to dealing with them the right way.

In 2005, Te Kainga launched their first mental health workshop along a similar topic chain with their last one held in 2013.

It was during those previous workshops that it was concluded that any type of mental illness is seen as the ‘hidden disease’s’ that is uncommonly talked about in open conversations.

However, Te Kainga Mental Health Trust has made it their mission to educate agencies and the general public of the ‘truths’ behind mental health and through the years tried to reduce the ‘stigma’ attached to the disease.

“Mental health has integrated into a fully resourced holistic health problem, accessible to all Cook Islanders, resulting in the elimination of stigma,” says Taikoko.

Dr Soosay, an Auckland University professor who shares similar interests, was the main guest speaker for the workshop and conducted presentations on a range of contributing topics such as; what is and what causes Mental Illnesses, the effects of alcohol and drugs in relation to mental illness and psychosocial interventions for post trauma, crisis and natural disasters, to name a few.

Other invited guest speakers were local professionals Dr. May Aung and Dr. Rangiau Fariu from the Ministry of Health along with Punanga Tauturu’s Manager and counsellor, Nga Teinangaro.

One of Te Kainga’s key goals for 2016 is to build stronger relationships and networks with external government agencies and non-profit organisations to collaborate ideas, skills and resources.

Taikoko believes that by working together, it will make their cause stronger, and eventually strengthen the local skill base to enable people to have more confidence in the service when seeking help.

A total of 58 professionals walked away from the workshop after its conclusion on Thursday feeling empowered and informed according to the summary evaluations.

Being the seventh workshop hosted by Te Kainga on the topic of mental health, Taikoko is confident this is only the start of many more to come and is now looking at extending the workshop to the Pa Enua.

Te Kainga would like to thank Rebeka Buchanan of Punanga Tauturu, all government and non-profit supporting agencies, financial donors and members of the public for making the workshop a success.               - SM  


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