Next Tongan govt urged to invest in mental health

The head of an NGO in Tonga says the next government will need to increase its investment in mental health services.

Tonga will go to the polls in November and the head of the Tonga Mental Health and Disabilities Association is hoping improvements in the sector will follow.

RNZI reports Leonaitasi Hoponoa has been involved in Tonga's first mental health symposium this week and said the event aims to boost awareness.

Mr Hoponoa said around 10 percent of Tongans suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives but the government support hadn't always been there.

"The support for mental health in Tonga is nearly .00001 [percent] and that is a clear indication of how much different key stakeholders place value on mental health. If Tonga is not able to perform urgent action to combat what I call a 'tsunami of ignorance' we will be drowned."