National Head of Mental Health Services in Solomon Islands, Dr Paul Orotaloa says communities in Solomon Islands should treat people who are sick with mental illness as any other normal diseases – responding appropriately to their needs, without stigmatisation.
Dr Orotaloa made the call in an interview saying people with mental illness need help, therefore people should assist rather than discriminate against them.
“Our communities should regard anyone who is sick with mental illness as individuals who are sick and needs help, give them the support they need. These individuals are sick, at any particular point in time that we saw them behave strangely or in a funny way we should not attach any different meanings to them because when we do so it will invoke in us different reactions. If we see them as sick individuals, we can be able to respond appropriately.”
He says dealing with people with mental health issues in the country is still a big challenge because people in our society do not understand how to deal with people with mental illness, saying dealing with people with mental illness nowadays is more focused on community orientation.
“Now it is a community-oriented approach that has been advocated widely and the laws have also changed accordingly. No longer will we keep the individuals who suffer from mental illness in an institution as before. As soon as they get treatment from the hospital and recover, they need to go back to their communities and that’s what the law provides for and it is their right as well. As soon as they get better, they need to get back to their own communities and be supported in their own homes.”