Mereana Taikoko, founder and chief executive officer of Te Kainga O Pa Taunga. 20100809/10
World Mental Awareness Week is being observed this week with the theme of making mental health and wellbeing a priority.
Mereana Taikoko, the
director of Te Kainga O Pa Taunga, the Cook Islands mental health organisation,
said her NGO had been trying to make mental health and wellbeing a priority for
a long time.
“There is still not enough resources allocated for
mental health, human and financial.”
The programme started on Sunday with a documentary on
depression, it will continue with a radio show, and later in the week Te Kainga O Pa Taunga committee
will hold a meeting. Home visits will also happen throughout the week.
A key idea that Taikoko wants to get across is “there
is no health without mental health”.
“I think one of the reasons government have not made
it a priority is that they don’t really understand what mental health is or
what health is. Health is not only physical health it’s mental and social as
“If you don’t have mental health then you don’t have
“Mental health is still being ignored.”
Taikoko said for most people mental health was
everyday problems. She said only a small per cent was “madness” and most people
were dealing with relationship issues, loneliness, money problems and stress.
Blue is the colour for mental health awareness and
wearing it would support the cause, said Taikoko.
Meanwhile the World Suicide Prevention Day was observed
Since 2005, Taikoko said there have been 39
suicides and 30 of those have been committed by men. Cook Islands had not reported
any suicides this year.
Taikoko said November, December and January were
typically months with the highest rates of suicide in the Cook Islands because
this was when “the big events were on”.
If you need support
for yourself or someone else, you can contact TMO Mental Health team – 25664 or
54881, Te Kainga – 20162, 50630, Punanga Tauturu (PTI) - 21133, Alcoholic
Anonymous – 55154, Cook Islands Family Welfare Association (CIFWA) - 23420,
Free Youthline - 0800 4357 (free call to NZ).