All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.
Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes
There are no universities in Samoa that offer degrees in counselling or psychology.
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Background & Context
Before mental health was more understood in Samoa, people with “madness and violence” were housed in prisons (Nelson, 2015). Treatment was mainly custodial, psychotropic medications were rarely used, and families never visited. The families believed that they suffered from demoniac illness and required treatment with traditional medicines for relief and recovery. There were no trained mental health care workers to provide professional care. Accommodated in prison and often isolated for many years, the patients were both stigmatized and institutionalized. Currently, mental health care services encompass both clinical and family-focused community components as the “mental well being is grounded in the aiga [family] and community” (World Health Organization, 2006, p. 3).
In Samoa, most of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in providing informal mental health services (World Health Organization, 2006). There are specific programs such as suicide awarness or alcoholic support that are provided by these NGO’s (World Health Organization, 2006). These services provide the majority of mental health care because of the lack of other mental health services (World Health Organization, 2006). The counselling services in schools and other areas lacking the proper care have yet to be established (World Health Organization, 2006). The World Health Organization (2006) further explains that these services are rarely provided by people with the proper training.
In summary, Samoa has made major changes to implement mental health services into its healthcare system. This evidence shows that there is positive progress in regards to awareness of mental health and mental illness in Samoa currently, but much more work needs to occur (Nelson, 2015).
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
There is no regulatory body for counselling in Samoa.
Practice settings for counsellors in Samoa include:
- Non-governmental organization
- Private practice
Challenges & Trends
Stigma and discrimination that exists within the community are two of the challenges for insufficient priority being given to mental health programs in Samoa. Stigma remains a major barrier to improving mental health care, as well as the acceptance towards counselling decreasing in Samoa. As in many countries, the stigma surrounding mental health care in Samoa negatively affects people who have mental health issues, their families and communities, as well as the mental health staff and related services. Additionally, there is very limited data of mental health issues in Samoa.
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:
- Nelson, B. (2015). The beast inside your head: A look at mental health issues in Samoa. Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. (pp. 1-30). https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/isp_collection/2220
- World Health Organization. (2006). Samoa Mental Health Policy. (pp. 1-21) https://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/country/SamoaMHPolicy%20Final%20-%20Aug2006.pdf?ua=1
- World Health Organization. (2017). Mental Health Atlas 2017. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles-2017/IRQ.pdf?ua=1