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Te Kainga O Pa Taunga partners with local NGOs to raise awareness of mental health

Tuesday 10 October 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Health, National


Te Kainga O Pa Taunga partners with local NGOs to raise awareness of mental health
Mereana Taikoko. 19090912

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 their community.

“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.”