Mental health gets boost

A big turnout of from the Ministry of Health and Human Services and the community joined in celebrating the opening of the first Mental Health Iakwe Ward.
A big turnout of from the Ministry of Health and Human Services and the community joined in celebrating the opening of the first Mental Health Iakwe Ward.

The first mental health facility of its kind in the RMI was opened last Friday with much fanfare.
Speeches, ribbon cutting and a live band last Friday afternoon at Majuro hospital highlighted the opening of the country’s first “Mental Health Iakwe Ward.”

The need for a crisis holding facility at the hospital was known for many years and has been long discussed. It finally moved to implementation last year with funding from the Asian Development Bank and the construction of the new building.

“A great and proud day for the Marshall Islands and for those of us who have been working so hard to complete our Mental Health ‘Iakwe’ Crisis Holding Unit and Ward,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal of Friday’s opening of the new facility.

“This is one of the only crisis holding units to be used specifically for people with a wide variety of mental health issues in our entire region,” he added, giving recognition to ADB for its support of the new facility.

He listed over 20 organizations and people “to give you an idea of how much our community took an interest and participated in the creation of this facility.” Niedenthal added: “When it comes to mental health and the many complicated issues that surround it, it truly does take a village.”

Another piece of good news arrived last week: The US Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released close to $300,000 to the ministry in support of the mental health program, according to Niedenthal. Earlier, HHS had put a hold on grants due to issues with this grant unrelated to Ministry of Health and Human Services or mental health management of those grants — but which negatively impacted service delivery by the mental health program when a major portion of its annual funding was put on hold.

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