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Mental health patients being housed in jail

Wednesday December 06, 2017 Written by Published in Health

Minister of Health Nandi Glassie has confirmed some mental patients with extreme behavioural issues are still having to be housed in Arorangi prison.


He told parliament on Monday, the situation was due to the limited funds allocated to mental health.

Opposition leader William “Smiley” Heather questioned the Health minister as to how much money has been allocated by government to the care of mental health patients in the Cook Islands.

Heather said issues regarding mental health patients had been raised over the last few months. And he says these issues have become an increasing problem for the country.

Government has allocated a nominal amount of around $50,000 to $60,000 towards helping with special cases.

Two part-time psychologists are helping with Mental Health Assessments, and Glassie said the Health ministry was now looking for a full time psychologist. Regarding funding he said: “We do not have enough, but we will find a way to make enough.”

He said a house had yet to be built to accommodate special cases.  Without a dedicated mental health facility in Rarotonga the prison was used as a safe guard to house these cases.

“This has become a problem for our nation as (people) do not wish for their family members to be taken to prison,” Glassie said.

The  lack of facilities for mental health patients were raised by Rarotonga resident John Scott in a letter to CINews earlier this year.

Scott was critical of the Health ministry ignoring what he described as a “seriou situation”.