Does the Speaker’s Debate on mental health tomorrow promise anything different?
I would like to think so, but the fact of the matter is that when the problem is staring government in the face and the legislation recognises a need such as in the Mental Health Regulations 2013, nothing is done.
I refer here specifically to how government ignores the plight of the hundreds of Cook Islanders with dementia, despite the legislation acknowledging the need for care, support, treatment or protection of these unfortunate people, and justifies its position with the excuse that it only has this responsibility if the facilities are available, which of course they are not.
I expounded at length on this deplorable state of affairs in a page long opinion piece in the Cook Islands News on August 31 last year. Now, several months later, there is to be a talk fest with the theme of “how effectively mental health issues are being addressed in the Cook Islands”.
I cannot speak for some features of mental health but I can for dementia and my answer is “poorly and irresponsibly”. I lay the blame squarely upon the government. The ministry of health does the best it can within the circumstances and conditions handed to it, but if government will not face up to its duty of care for its elderly and not-so-elderly by providing the requisite funding, its hands will continue to be tied.
John M Scott