Valentine’s Day is good for us: psychiatrist

Love or hate Valentine’s Day but that day of the year associated with love, flowers and chocolates promotes positive emotions and is good for us, says a psychiatrist.

Seiuliali’i Dr George Tuitama, Samoa’s only registered psychiatrist and head of the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital’s mental health unit, told the Samoa Observer that anything that promotes healthy emotions is good and is what humans need.

“Anything that promotes healthy emotions which leads to a productive outcome is good for mental health,” he said. “Valentine’s here in the urban area, yeah, but in the more rural area, I’m not sure it’s a big thing out there but it’s definitely a big thing here (in the urban area).”

In high school Valentine's Day was a time for a student to profess admiration for his or her crush, says Seiuliali’i and to do something nice for them, though he says it has its ups and downs.

There is also a religious connection to Valentine's Day, which the psychiatrist said he googled and found out more about.

“I googled it up a long time ago and it’s got a good story on one end and it’s also got a bad story on the other end on how it came to be celebrated.”

However, Samoans today have adopted Valentine’s Day and given it their own meaning.

“I think now we are not celebrating it necessarily because of the actual meaning historically,” added Seiuliali’i. “I think we have sort of adapted our own definition for it, it’s a way to express some of our deepest emotions in a loving and caring way and that is healthy. 

“The best treatment for anything is tender loving care – if you look at the treatments for diabetes and hypertension the second line treatment is medication. 

“But the first line treatment is lifestyle and diet so it’s lifestyle and diet in ourterms but in other terms it’s just tender loving care.”

According to Seiuliali’i, the first line of treatment is about looking after yourself. 

“It’s how to look after yourself, how to look out for your body and it’s tender loving care when it comes to some of these emotions and love in that sense for Valentine’s.”

The psychiatrist then added that Samoan people are resilient when it comes to mental health and in that he meant their ability to adjust.

“When I say resilience, it’s that we adjust quite well, so even though Valentine’s has its own [origins] at the moment Samoa has turned Valentine’s into a business idea. 

“They have turned it into a marketing idea. 

“They have turned it into just a way to get together and enjoy people’s company.”

And with a lot of people getting together to mark the day in Samoa, Seiuliali’i used the opportunity to remind the public that those in the mental health space also need support, and fundraising to support their activities would go a long way.

“If sometime in the future they need Valentine’s for fundraising, just know that we do need a lot of support with mental health in Samoa. 

“We are open to any fundraising opportunities for mental health.”

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