Mental Health Service Prioritised

The Directorate of Social Change and Mental Health Services (DSCMHS) has been declared a statutory body of the government.

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, Jelta Wong made the announcement in an official ceremony held this week at the Chancery of the Port Moresby Catholic Archdiocese, in the presence of Chairman of the DSCMHS Board, Archbishop Cardinal Sir John Ribat.

The Social Change and Mental Health Services as a government body will operate independently with its own directorate board, separate from the Health Department, where it previously operated under.

Acting Director for Mental Health, Dr. Uma Ambi a dedicated officer with the Service, acknowledged the Health Ministry for the recognition with the support of Minister Wong.

Board Chairman, Cardinal Sir John Ribat said, “It is important that this service for our people is recognized by the government as represented by the presence of the minister to proclaim its important place within the services of health in the country.”

He said he had witnessed many people approaching him for prayer for their family members who are having mental depression and disorder so it is a very important matter.

Cardinal Ribat urged those who are well to make those affected people feel that other people are with them in their moments

“All of us recognize that it is important that we have it standing on its own because we want to do important services for our people and I know you know that our families, our friends and members of our community are suffering.

“So this service is to promote good mental health in Papua New Guinea, prevent development of mental health problems and mental disorder among children, the adolescents, adults and the elderly,” he said.

Cardinal Ribat added that this directorate would also work towards addressing the drugs that contribute to this.

“The government recognizes this service as important for our community, because we are witnessing already within the youths, our schools and our communities, there is the presence of mental disorder among our people.”

WHO Country Representative, Dr. Sevil Huseynova graced the occasion as her third official engagement since her arrival. She opened her remarks by saying ‘there is no health without mental health’.

“If you don’t have a peace of mind, it is very difficult for us to function. Just as you know if you are a mother, you are not in a position to take care of children your family, if you are a father it is the same. You know if you are a son, if you are a daughter you don’t have a mental status to be able to take care of your daily life, daily work,” said Dr. Huseynova.

She explained that there is a difference between those who are mentally sick and those looking for mental wellbeing. As one has a medical condition and the other is coming out due to our life and social circumstances.

Minister Wong took the time to acknowledge Dr. Ambi for their commitment and services to mental health in the country.

“You have to like what you’re doing and I applaud Dr. Ambi for pushing herself and always sacrificing to ensure that this mental health programme is continuing. As a government we fully support the work that she’s doing so that it ensures that our people had a chance for this service,” said Minister Wong.

The Minister then signed the Proclamation that the Government has under the Mental Health Act 2015, declared the DSCMHS as a Statutory Authority and is the focal point for Mental Health & Psychiatric Services in PNG.

Frieda Kana