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Melanesian Mental Health and Psychiatric Services: Perspectives from Papua New Guinea

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Psychology in Oceania and the Caribbean

Part of the book series: International and Cultural Psychology ((ICUP))

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Abstract

Papua New Guinea (PNG) became an independent country in 1975, and its inhabitants identify themselves as Melanesians. Papua New Guinea is an indigenous traditional society, consisting of many tribes, 800 languages and dialects, including numerous islands, and a population that lives mostly in villages, and that utilizes subsistence farming and that gathers food from the forest and fish from the sea and river. Tribal warfare is not uncommon, and there is also a cultural process for reconciliation which is quite unique to the Melanesian culture. In this chapter, we discuss the most common mental health problems found in Papua New Guinea, along with the current status of the mental health system. Some of the symptomatology is difficult to fit into usual diagnostic categories, and seeing the symptoms through a transcultural lens gives us a more complete picture. We provide some anecdotes from our experiences in the field. Suicide rates in Papua New Guinea are low, though there are an increasing number of substance use disorder cases that have emerged with the greater urbanization and migration in the country. Psychotropic medications are in short supply, as are mental health personnel. Religious services offered through local churches are frequently involved in providing basic health services in the community.

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Correspondence to Sanu Pal .

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Pal, S., Pal, S. (2022). Melanesian Mental Health and Psychiatric Services: Perspectives from Papua New Guinea. In: Rich, G.J., Ramkumar, N.A. (eds) Psychology in Oceania and the Caribbean. International and Cultural Psychology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-87763-7_10

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