Brigidine Sister sounds alarm about lack of support for mentally ill

A 72-year-old Brigidine sister, Jane Keogh, is on Manus Island where she has been trying to help a mentally ill man at the East Lorengau Transit Centre.

She says there is no help available for people suffering from mental illness.

Last week an apparent suicide of a Tamil detainee was closely followed by that of an Iranian refugee, both of whom were living in the East Lorengau Transit Centre on Manus.

Keogh said she spent a day trying to get treatment for another Sri Lankan refugee who was having a psychotic episode.

The situation was dire. “I think it’s high level. If the people at the hospital are saying there are three cases of psychosis at the moment – well, with psychosis, you don’t know what they’re going to do next,” she said.

“If people can run naked through the town and no-one’s allowed to apprehend them or do anything with them, the police could put them in the lock-up which would only add to their trauma. Any of those three could die imminently.”

Keogh told RNZ that when they asked the people at the Transit Centre for help they said “Look, we’re sorry but there is no psychiatric help at that hospital, there’s nowhere on this island, there’s nowhere you can take him, we can’t do anything.”

Australian and PNG authorities are moving ahead with plans to close the Manus Island detention centre by October 31.

The refugees inside have been told to move to alternative accommodation, mainly the transit centre, so the detention centre can be shut down.

“When they were in the camp [detention centre] anyone in a psychiatric state had people monitoring them and watching them the whole time. Here [at Lorengau] they don’t have it,” said Keogh.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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