All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
There is no information that can be found online in regards to any counselling association present in the Marshall Islands.
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
There were no universities that offered counselling programs in the Marshall Islands. However, the College of Marshall Island offers an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts.
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
- There was no information that could be found about this hospital.
Background & Context
In 2005, mental health became a primary focus point for the Marshall Islands when a situational analysis was conducted regarding the mental health needs of its citizens (Alfred et al., 2015). In 2007, a mental health policy was established that covered the mental health services provided, the well-being of the staff, etc. (Alfred et al., 2015). In 2008 and 2009, a training plan was created that would allow for new mental health care professionals to be trained properly, and then a mental health council was created to take over the responsibility of regulating their policies (Alfred et al., 2015). From this point on, the mental health field in the Marshall Islands has continued to grow with more training offered to healthcare professionals such as doctors and NGO stakeholders (Alfred et al., 2015).
The available health care centers have served as huge providers of community-based services for the people on all of the islands included in the Marshall Islands (Alfred et al., 2015). Alfred et al. (2015) explain that health care centers remain “in contact with the community through community health councils located on the atolls” (p. 22). This helps to continue providing services to the outer islands.
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
Mental health services are provided among the islands, however, most outer islands have the hardest time receiving these mental health services because they are primarily offered on the main islands (Alfred et al., 2015). As mentioned by Alfred et al. (2015), basic services for mental health issues can be offered, unless the issue requires more than primary level services. In that case, individuals will be referred to outside services. Mental health in the Marshall Islands has only recently been recognized in the early 2000’s with a regulatory body being established and allowing for licensing to be implemented (Alfred et al., 2015). There are many ways that Marshallese can receive mental health care including via hospitals in neighboring islands, two general hospitals, and 56 primary health care clinics (Alfred et al., 2015).
It is unclear how many counsellors exist in the Marshall Islands. However, counsellors can be found working in settings including:
- Non-Governmental Organizations
- Primary Health Care Centres
- Community Centres
Challenges & Trends
The mental health treatment services in the Marshall Islands are only provided as primary care-based. This leaves the people of the Marshall Islands with limited choice of only the two hospitals providing these services; Ebeye Hospital and Majuro Hospital (Alfred et al., 2015). The literature regarding mental health provision is very limited and did not include enough information about the contact details of the hospitals. Awareness of mental health in the public eye remains a problem because it has not been taken seriously by the older generation as they still view it as fake medicine. Information regarding certified or trained counsellors in the Marshall Islands is still an issue as no detailed explanation can be found. There is a growing issue of gender-based abuse, alcohol addiction, and employment opportunities.
Due to the geographical isolation of the atolls being widely scattered, there are a number of difficulties in providing services to the outer island populations and limited transportation as well (Alfred et al., 2015). Consequently, mental health services are mostly provided to the inner most islands. The only mental health services that are provided to the outer islands is when there is an emergency or when someone suffers from a severe mental disorder, in which they will be referred to the Majuro or Ebeye Hospitals for further services (Alfred et al., 2015). Additionally, trained mental health professionals are still lacking in the Marshall Islands due to the limited amount of training that is offered. They can only provide basic level services to people with mental health problems as the current mental health staff are unable to provide the necessary level of care to all mental health problems (Alfred et al., 2015). As for the tertiary specialist level, patients are referred to hospitals in Hawaii or to the Philippines (Alfred et al., 2015).
Additional Information & References
For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal & website articles:
- Alfred J., Edwin M., Funk M., Handtke O., McGovern P. (2015). WHO proMIND: Profiles on mental health in development (pp. 1-41). World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/185038/9789241509435_eng.pdf?sequence=1