For the first time in history today, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has launched the Solomon Islands Mental Health Policy with the theme ‘Building Bridges for an Integrated Health Future’ at the Iron Bottom Sound conference room.
Ministry of Health and Medical Service, Minister Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana in his keynote address at the launch said it is an honour for him to launch the first-ever Solomon Islands Mental Health Policy.
Dr Togamana said on behalf of the government and people of Solomon Islands, he extend his heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry, World Health Organization and the World Bank who contributed towards putting the policy document and making the launch event possible.
He described the theme for the launch ‘Building Bridges for an Integrated Health Future’ holds great significance.
“It prompts us to reflect on the journey that began in 1950 when mental health services was established in the Solomon Islands with the first mental health asylum in Honiara. In those early days, it mainly served as a facility to detain individuals deemed a threat to society or unable to care for themselves.
“However, as we gather here today, the theme invites us to contemplate the future and the importance of fostering partnerships to achieve integrated Mental Health Services in the Solomon Islands”, said Dr Togamana.
Dr Togamana said mental health challenges affect all aspects of our lives, families, workplaces, and communities, impacting everyone. Thus, the call to build bridges in mental health is a proactive measure to address the challenges faced in providing mental health services.
He further stated our collective efforts in building these bridges encompass several crucial aspects: breaking down stigma, collaboration among stakeholders, integrated mental health into primary care, improving access to mental health services, enhancing mental health education and addressing systemic issues.
“The call to build bridges in mental health aims to create a compassionate, understanding, and connected community that supports the mental well-being of all individuals, particularly our children, young adolescents, adults and our elderlies, reducing the burden of mental illness in our communities and our society as a whole. As individuals and as a society, we must strive to prevent mental ill-health. Today’s launch marks a significant milestone in a journey that began over seventy-three (73) years ago”, said Dr Togamana.
Thus, Dr Togamana said the government is fully committed to realizing the vision and mission of this policy through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services together with our partners and stakeholders.
“We are dedicated to providing quality, affordable, and accessible mental health services and programs to all individuals in need. Additionally, we advocate for safe and healthy conditions and environments that promote good mental health. To further strengthen our commitment, Solomon Islands Ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on July 22, 2023. This reflects our dedication to ensuring the full and effective participation of people with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others. We acknowledge the efforts leading to this ratification was the result of a 15-year journey since becoming a signatory to the UN Convention in September 2008”, said Dr Togamana.
He highlighted the government recognize the need to review the current Mental Health Act. Taking the first steps towards legislative reform, the Solomon Islands National Mental Health Policy received endorsement from Cabinet on March 27, 2023.
“The Ministry of Health, with support from WHO, is actively developing drafting instructions to inform the Attorney General in crafting a bill, which we anticipate will soon be presented before Parliament”, said Dr Togamana.
He added the progress of mental health services in our nation has been very slow throughout the years.
However, he said we must acknowledge that enduring challenges remain, intensified by the harsh socio-economic conditions and the profound impact of diseases such as the recent global pandemic on individuals and communities.
The Minister then extend his heartfelt appreciation to the many mental health officials, nurses, doctors, and allied health workers, both at the national level and in our provinces.
He said their tireless efforts have been instrumental in ensuring that our people receive the crucial mental health services they require. Moreover, their unwavering dedication and commitment have played a pivotal role in providing essential care to those in need.
“Let us join hands and forge ahead with determination, resilience, and empathy, as we strive to build a brighter and integrated mental health future for all Solomon Islanders”, Dr Togamana said.