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Mental illness in Vanuatu is a major concern given the very limited access to mental health services, which are predominantly delivered through clinics and inpatient services at 4 hospitals. There are few trained mental health professionals, and mental health is poorly integrated into primary care centres.
Mental health training initiatives began in 2009 and have targeted health care workers, government officials and non-governmental workers throughout Vanuatu. The mental health training has also led to the creation of a group of trainers who can provide ongoing training and support to health care workers and communities. The Ministry of Health in Vanuatu is working to build mental health services, develop a mental health workforce and ensure high quality mental health care for those in need by:
- Working to have the National Mental Health Committee formally endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the Vanuatu Government. This was initially established in 2007, but has yet to be formalized and endorsed.
- Establishing a separate budget for mental health services, to fund the provision of basic mental health services including those for alcohol and substance abuse.
- Reviewing mental health legislation to ensure that human rights for people with mental illness are respected and promoted in revised legislation.
- Providing basic mental health services at the primary health care level.
- Investing in human resources through two training initiatives, including i) on-the-job training, using a collaborative care model for primary care and secondary level doctors and nurses based at the referral hospitals, provincial hospitals and health centres; and ii) providing postbasic training in mental health nursing for nurses and nurse practitioners at these levels.
- Ensuring appropriate access to psychotropic drugs.
- Ensuring that key mental health indicators are integrated into the health management information system of Vanuatu in consultation with managers, mental health specialists, and health service providers.