Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, the Cook Islands mental health organisation, has partnered with representatives from local non-government organisations to celebrate World Mental Health Day with a special breakfast event this morning.
The theme for this year’s
World Mental Health Day is “Mental health is a universal human right”. The
event aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and
mobilise efforts in support of mental health.
Medical practitioner Dr. Maria
Peach, who has worked with Te Kainga and other social groups on the island, is
the key speaker at the event, which starts at 10am.
Mereana Taikoko, the director
of Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, said raising awareness of mental health remains a key
goal for the organisation.
“People don’t understand what
mental health is,” Taikoko said. “They still think mental health is mental
illness, and that’s why continuous awareness is so important.”
“The definition of mental
health is the state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with phases
of life, realise their abilities to learn well and work well, and contribute to
“There is still a stigma
associated with mental health, and more awareness is needed so people can
understand what mental health is.”
Taikoko said the Covid-19
pandemic had put a lot of stress on people, and the centre saw a spike in the
number of people coming to seek support.
She said the opening of Te
Puna Tiaki – Wellness Unit at the Rarotonga Hospital would help alleviate some
of the pressures on the island’s mental health system.
Te Puna Tiaki, the Cook
Islands mental health facility, has a capacity to accommodate up to four
inpatients and a larger number of outpatients at one time.
Taikoko said Te Kainga O Pa
Taunga had been advocating for a mental health facility since 2014.
“The mental health facility
takes people in crisis, and we sometimes refer people to them,” Taikoko said.
“Our service focuses on
helping people cope with the pressure and stress they are facing before they
get to the stage where they are mentally overwhelmed.”