Police should deal with violent people with mental health issues

A Samoan mental health expert says violent reactions perpetrated by persons living with mental health issues should be referred to the Police.

The head of the mental health unit at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) National Hospital, Tuifagatoa Dr. George Tuitama, told the Samoa Observer that it is their job to attend to them medically but any violent behaviour should see the Police getting involved.

“It is both our job to cure them but it is initially the Police’s job to deal with their violent reactions in the public, and bringing them over to the mental facility for care is where we come in,” he said.

This newspaper witnessed an incident at Vailoa last week, when a person living with mental health issues smashed a bottle on the road. Members of the public at the Savalalo market also expressed concern with a man, who has a reputation for hurting people. 

Speaking on the issue of mental health, Tuifagatoa also expressed disappointment that some people use that condition as an "excuse" to commit crime. 

“It’s a bit disappointing to know that some mentally unwell people are excusing on their conditions for their bad behaviours while they should also be paying for whatever crime they did,” he said.

Tuifagatoa added that it is time for the Police to make a concerted effort to address the problem, as was discussed in past training with other members of the Samoa Police Service. 

According to Section 12 Part 3 of the Samoa Mental Health Act 2007, the health care professional may request a Police Officer or other person to apprehend and transport the person to the nominated health care professional and place.

Also in Section 8 part 2, it states “(2)Despite any other law and subject to subsection (3), for the purposes of an assessment under subsection (1) a health care professional or member of the Police Service may: 

(a) apprehend and transport the person to the proposed place of assessment; or

(b) request a member or members of the Police Service to provide reasonable assistance with the apprehension, transportation, restraint and assessment of the person; or

(c) under direction from a health care professional, restrain the person.

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