Between a rock and a hard place : analysing and evaluating the Samoan Mental Health Policy for its applicability to policy development in Niue : a research report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters of International Development at Massey University, New Zealand

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Massey University
Mental health is a prevalent, but often ignored area of health. Mental disorders can significantly impact the mentally ill, their families, and the wider community. Access to proper care and treatment for the mentally ill can be hindered by availability, ignorance, discrimination, and stigma, and can result in human rights violations. This is especially true in developing countries where services may be inadequate or non-existent. National mental health policies can help this situation by improving and prioritising mental health services in terms of finance, legislation, advocacy, human rights, mental health training, and service delivery. In 2001 the WHO launched Project Policy to support this effort. Sixteen years later, Niue has yet to formally begin the process of developing their national policy, while their neighbour Samoa, has had a policy in place since 2006. This research project seeks to determine if and how the Samoan mental health policy should be leveraged for Niue’s future policy development. This desk-based research has been completed through a critical literature review that includes government documents, WHO publications and policy guidelines, Pacific Island Mental Health Network reports, academic literature, and mental health and rights-based organisational websites. This research is accomplished in several steps: critically analysing the WHO mental health policy guidelines that have been chosen as the framework for this report, detailing regional mental health considerations with a focus on Niue and Samoa, and evaluating and analysing the Samoan policy using the WHO framework. The findings from this allows for a discussion of strategies for Niue to best leverage Samoa’s policy. This research concludes, based on Samoa and Niue’s cultural connections, their similarities in terms of mental health challenges and capacities, as well as the positive findings from the analysis and evaluation of the Samoan policy, that the Samoan policy is an excellent choice for Niue to leverage in their future policy work. While noting areas for improvement concerning finance and human rights, the remaining contents of the Samoan policy strongly align with the requirements and depth of information required by the WHO framework. Going forward, Niue would benefit from developing their mental health policy based on the precepts of South-to-South Cooperation by collaborating and sharing knowledge with their experienced neighbour Samoa.
Mental health policy, Niue, Mental health policy, Samoa