World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day 2020 – a day used to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health – will be recognised worldwide tomorrow, Saturday 10 October 2020. This year’s theme is ‘mental health for all’.

On St Helena and to recognise Mental Health Day, we would like to remind the public of the Mental Health Services offered on-Island and give an update on the Service’s current focus:

The Mental Health Service started over 15 years ago and at the time had one Community Psychiatric Nurse, this later progressed to having two Community Psychiatric Nurses. Over the years, the Service has expanded to include three Community Psychiatric Nurses (two for adults and one for children/adolescents) a Clinical Psychologist and an Education Psychologist. One of the doctors is also assigned to the team. The team also have a Psychiatrist off-Island who provides clinical advice and support to the team, and off-Island therapists for specialist therapeutic work via Skype or Zoom. The Mental Health team works closely with the schools, police, prison, hospital and other agencies on-Island.

Community Psychiatric Nurse, Samantha Williams, was a local nurse who left the Island to complete her Psychiatric Nurse training in Northern Ireland and, after being away for about 15 years, has now returned as Child & Adolescent Mental Health Nurse.

The Mental Health team is focussing on the developmental needs of young children, supporting people when they are young as they are less likely to experience difficulties later in life. The team has developed an ‘early years’ pathway which makes the process of assessing young children’s needs early and ensuring that what they need is in place to support them before they go to school. This involves joined-up working between the Health, Education and Children & Adults Social Care Directorates. Previously, young people and their families were sent overseas for diagnostic assessments for autism and related conditions, but this has been offered here on-Island in recent years with remote or face-to-face assessment.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Tara Murphy, is engaged in a research project STRAWS (Saint Teenage Resilience and Wellbeing Study) which looks at what makes young people here strong and able to cope with problems. People have probably seen the study advertised in the local media. To date, we have recruited more than 20 young people and keep encouraging more young people to get involved until the study ends in November 2020. This study has been directly supported by both the Health and Education Directorates.

The Mental Health Team has also secured funding and planning permission to build a secure therapeutic room in the General Hospital so that they can safely treat acutely ill people on-Island.

If you need any assistance or advice from the Mental Health Team, please call them on tel: 22593.


9 October 2020

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470