To investigate the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse disorders among the Pacific Islanders, with specific reference to Fiji as the study population.
In order to discuss mental illness we first have to know what mental health is. Mental health is basically the well being of our cognitive functions as well as our emotional status including how we think, feel and behave. For some people mental health means the absence of mental infirmities. Mental health also determines a persons ability to enjoy life - to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
The World Health Organization defines mental health is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". WHO also goes on to say that that mental health "is not just the absence of mental disorder".
Mental illness is a term used to describe wide range of mental disorders including anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, eating disorders and the schizophrenia.
When a substance is used in an inappropriate and harmful manner to achieve psychological and mood altering effects it is termed substance abuse. Medline's medical encyclopedia defines drug abuse as "the use of illicit drugs or the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are indicated or in a manner or in quantities other than directed.
Illegal and illicit drugs are not the only substances that can be abused. Alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter medications, inhalants and solvents, and even coffee and cigarettes, can all be used to harmful excess. So in theory, almost any substance can be abused.
Substance abuse and mental illness are seen to be in a synergic relationship, whereby