Mental illness battle; Former peacekeepers, drug addicts top count

Psychiatric Survivors Association office manager Sera Osborne speaking at the 6th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability in Nadi. Picture: SUPPLIED

FORMER military personnel who were affected by active peacekeeping duties and drug addicts trying to beat the habit, form the largest number of people battling mental illness in the country.

This was revealed by Sera Osborne, the office manager of Psychiatric Survivors Association of Fiji, during the 6th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi, last week.

Ms Osborne – a psychosocial disability survivor – said at present there were 449 members of PSA Fiji, the majority of whom were men.

“One of the reasons men outnumber women would be the result of post traumatic stress disorder,” she said. “We have members who are ex-military who have been through traumatic experiences and, as a result, are dealing with PTSD.

“Another reason is the usage of illegal drugs and the impact this has had mainly on men.

“Another common issue is with men who have gone through traumatic separation or divorce issues with their spouses or partners.

“What we have found is that men don’t really share, they keep things to themselves.

“They don’t realise that bottling things up is a contributing factor to mental illness.”

Ms Osborne added that while the association had 449 members, the number of people living with psychosocial disability or mental illness would be significantly more.

“These are the only ones we have been able to reach out to in the communities that we have been able to conduct awareness in.

“There are other communities with known or unknown cases and when we finally reach out to those communities we expect the numbers to rapidly increase.”

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