Mental health help

MANY people face mental health issues that arise out of things they go through in their lives.

Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions, that is, disorders that affect mood, thinking and behaviour.

Some examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours.

A few people reach out and seek professional help while others opt for alcohol or drugs to get temporary relief from the problems affecting their mental health.

Those who reach out and seek professional counselling often become mentally relieved and happier persons.

The World Health Organization conceptualises mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

Since Empower Pacific launched its toll-free counselling helpline 5626 on March 23, 2020, many people have benefitted from counselling provided by its team of professional counsellors

Sponsored by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the helpline started during the restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the organisation’s success stories is about a subsistence farmer in his late 20s who lives with his mother in the interior of Nadroga.

He has an elder brother who is married and lives on his own. Their father has passed away.

The man, referred to in this article as “client” because of confidentiality issues, said he came to know about the Empower Pacific helpline number 5626 in the year 2021 through radio advertisements.

He felt that he would be heard, understood and provided with the support he needed if he called 5626 so he spoke to someone about issues affecting his mental health.

During the tele-counselling session with the counsellor, he sounded very disturbed, anxious and stated having constant thoughts of self-harm.

Furthermore, he said that he had been previously diagnosed with a mental health condition, because he hallucinated.

He was feeling very helpless as he did not have money and transport to go to the hospital.

The counsellor spoke with his mother on the phone and she gave further insight into her son’s medical condition and explained about their financial struggles.

After carefully considering his situation, the counsellor contacted the Sigatoka Police who was able to liaise with the Sigatoka Hospital, which provided the client with transport to hospital.

The client confided in the counsellor who believed in him despite his mental health condition.

The client is currently coping well. He works on their small farm, which remains the source of livelihood for him and his mother.

Like him, there are others facing similar mental health issues stemming from different things including problems in their family or relationship with a husband/wife/partner.

On Valentine’s Day this year, an unknown male called the helpline 5626 and was referred to a counsellor.

The caller told the counsellor that he was going through relationship and family issues which were adding to his stress level. He was counselled on the phone.

During a follow-up phone call by the counsellor a week later, he said that through counselling he was able to reduce the risk of consuming illicit substances and therefore felt much better.

He also said that he was mentally and emotionally stable to overcome challenges in the relationship with his partner.

These two clients, like others, expressed gratitude for the much-needed support rendered to them by Empower Pacific.

An average of 20 calls are received daily on Empower Pacific’s toll-free helpline 5626 and counsellors provide mental health and psychosocial support to those needing such help.

Working in partnership with government ministries and community agencies, the organisation seeks to enhance the full potential of communities and have a holistic model of professional health services.

Most importantly, Empower Pacific offers a variety of programs aimed at enhancing the health and wellbeing of its clients as well as facilitating opportunities for learning and personal growth.

  • Avinesh Gopal is Empower Pacific’s media and communications officer. The ideas and views in this article are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

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