12 Dec 2013

Pacific health group says families vital in care of mentally ill

8:14 pm on 12 December 2013

The Pacific Behavioral Health Collaborating Council is continuing its push for Pacific families to care for their members with mental disabilities.

The council, which is meeting in American Samoa this week, is made up of six US affiliated Pacific Island jurisdictions - American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Its mission is to promote sustainable, culturally appropriate services and advocate for behavioural health policies and systems improvement.

The council's president, Julia Alfred, says they are continually pushing to revitalise the Pacific

family way of caring for relatives who have mental illnesses,

American Samoa does not have a specialist mental health care facility for people in jail but Ms Alfred says keeping them in the prison is not the answer.

"We should never ignore and we should never give up on trying to revitalise the strength of family and community to help our mentally ill. People with mental illness in jail - that's not right. I don't think it is even appropriate for our culture."