25 Mar 2019

Positive outcomes from programme supporting mental illness patients in Fiji

1:24 pm on 25 March 2019

A doctor in a northern hospital in Fiji says a programme aimed at helping locals living with mental health conditions has made a positive impact on them.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The psychiatric registrar at Labasa Hospital, Doctor Farina Fatima, said the Enhancement Activities Programme or LEAP, provides opportunities for people suffering mental illnesses or related concerns.

According to Dr Farina Fatima, about 700 people living in northern Fiji have benefited from the programme.

She said LEAP engages in meaningful and effective activities such as mental health education, art and craft, physical activity, vocational skills, music, relaxation and sensory therapies.

Dr Fatima also said the therapy teaches people to relax and to take care of their stress.

She said this gives patients the opportunity to engage in vocational skills.

"This is also very good for some of our patients, as it help them accept their illness, it gives them a feeling of normalcy to interact with people in the ward and also with the staff.

"These [activities] keeps them occupied, away from their stressful thoughts and away from their illness. We have seen a lot of positive outcomes, sometimes patients stay for weeks and even months so we have to find ways to engage them," Dr Fatima said.

The Australian government's Direct Aid Programme (DAP) funded LEAP in Fiji.