8 Jun 2010

Funding woes plague American Samoa health care

3:06 pm on 8 June 2010

American Samoa's Public Defender, Ruth Risch, says a lack of coordination among the government agencies receiving funding for mental health is affecting services for mental health patients.

The Office of the Public Defender handles most of the cases of people found to be mentally ill or seeking evaluations of their mental health status to determine if they are fit to stand trial.

Ms Risch estimates up to 20 of their clients should be in some sort of long-term mental health treatment programme but most are in jail or on probation with probation officers keeping them in order and ensuring they take their medication.

Ms Risch says there needs to be improved co-ordination between the various agencies.

"We need a facility where people who are mentally ill and cannot stay in their homes with their families can go and they can receive treatment. And right now we don't have a place for them and we just take them and lock them up at TCI [correctional facility]."