Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

There are no counselling associations in Vanuatu.

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

University of the South Pacific

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

There were not any counselling agencies in Vanuatu that could be found through via research.

Background & Context

Very little is known about the counselling profession in Vanuatu. The country has such a small-sized health workforce, with only 22 doctors and 450 nurses that cover roughly 80 islands, attending to the 220,000 citizens of Vanuatu (Benson, et al., 2011). However, these health care professionals are not adequately trained to provide mental health services.

Informal counselling and guidance are often provided by local pastors as the country is highly religious. Besides that, most locals would also consult their respective village chiefs for issues regarding mental illness or family issues. Individuals suspected of having schizophrenia or psychotic behaviors are often treated with traditional medicines and religious exorcism while being cared for by their own family members. The Pacific Islands Mental Health Network (PIMHNet) was formed in 2007 because awareness was brought to the lack of mental health services that were being provided, so this allowed for more advancements to be made with the help of the Ministers of Health (Benson, et al., 2011).

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

The PIMHNet provides limited training throughout three years for individuals seeking to learn basic mental health techniques and practices. Although PIMHNet provides these services, there still is not a regulatory body that provides proper structure for how the mental health services will be provided.

Practice Settings

There is limited information about the number of counsellors that exist in Vanuatu. However, it is indicated that counselling is practiced in these settings:

  • Churches
  • International organizations, such as the Pacific Islands Mental Health Network (PIMHnet)
  • Primary Health Care Facilities

Challenges & Trends

The potential for developing and promoting the counselling profession in Vanuatu is extremely low due to several reasons. Firstly, more than 70% of Vanuatu citizens live in rural areas, of which most could not even access primary healthcare services that are mainly located in the main city islands. As a result, they would usually resort to consulting their respective village chiefs or pastors. Furthermore, there are over 110 different “mother tongue” languages being spoken in the country. The country’s official trade language, Bislama has no translations for mental health terms such as depression or anxiety.  

However, in 2009, the WHO coordinated the Pacific Islands Mental Health Network to assist countries such as Vanuatu to address the problems of the mental health system (or the lack thereof) in the country. It provided mental health training to health professionals, community leaders, and social service personnel as well as conducted periodic visits to assess the progress of the program outcomes. The training programs consist of presentations on the definition of mental illness and its types, communication skills, crisis management, CBT, the mental health of various age groups, and alcohol and drug abuse. The current state of this program is unknown.

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:

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