1 Mar 2008

Concerns about lack of mental heath specialists in AmericanSamoa

10:09 am on 1 March 2008

American Samoa's Assistant Public Defender Ruth Risch has raised concerns over the lack of a mental facility and a qualified psychiatrist on island to evaluate people with mental health issues.

Ms Risch says all too often, people with mental problems exhaust the extremely limited health resources and end up in the criminal justice system because there is no one on island who can help them.

She says the Tafuna Correctional Facility is not a safe place for people who are mentally challenged as the staff are not trained to handle medical and mental health cases.

She says this is a major issue that needs to be addressed by the LBJ Hospital, Criminal Justice Planning Agency and the Attorney General's office.

Legal counsel for the LBJ hospital Terry Lovelace said that the hospital is actively recruiting a psychiatrist from the US, and is currently pursuing a contract through the Hawaii state hospital to provide psychiatric care and give medical prescription via Tele-Medicine.