LEAP MAKES POSITIVE IMPACTS ON FIJIANS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

The establishment of the two-year-old Life Enhancement Activities Program (LEAP) in Labasa Hospital’s Stress Management Ward has had a positive impact on the mental health and, effectively, the lives Fijians with Mental Health issues in Labasa.

LEAP provides opportunities for people living with mental health conditions, illnesses or related concerns to engage in meaningful and effective activities such as mental health education, art and craft, physical activity, vocational skills, music, relaxation and sensory therapies.

Psychiatric Registrar at the Labasa Hospital, Doctor Farina Fatima said this kind of therapy teaches people to relax and to take care of their stress.

“This also gives them the opportunity to engage in Vocational skills at the time, which we hope to expand on in the future,” Dr Fatima said.

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“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.

She added that from last year, about 700 Northerners have benefited from the programme.

LEAP was initially granted funding through the Australian Government’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) in 2016 and has recently received additional DAP funding in order to allow LEAP to continue to grow and better meet the needs of communities in Labasa.

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The program ultimately aims to benefit participants by improving their mental wellness and coping strategies, developing new life skills and building stronger social networks. It is currently available to inpatients and outpatients of the Labasa Stress Management Ward and appointments can be made by calling directly on 881-1444.

DAP is a flexible small grants program funded by the Australian Government on a not-for-profit basis to community groups, NGOs and other entities engaged in development-focused projects.

The Health Ministry acknowledges the timely support from the Australian Government which will ultimately provide new directions for mental health service users.