Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When the trees bend in the forest, there is always a reason

Two reports are now available online regarding the mental health of Pasifika people living in New Zealand. The first reports on a mental health study over the period 2003/4, so no doubt there have been some changes since the study was done.

The second has a particular focus on the first dedicated Pacific child, adolescent and family mental health service in Porirua, which was established in 2005

Exploration of Pacific perspectives of Pacific models of mental health service delivery in New Zealand, by T. Suaalli-Sauni and others.
This report was first published this year in the Pacific Health Dialog, volume 15, number 1, and summarizes the 2004 study, 'Pacific Models of Mental Health Service Delivery in New Zealand' which looked at concerns about the mental health of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand, and the way in which the various Pacific Island groups are not being well catered for in the general health system. There is discussion of the ways in which mental health has been dealt with traditionally, and how to a degree this still suits the older generation. However, it is not longer ‘a neat fit’ for the younger people.
Another issue is the fact of very different cultural viewpoints amongst the range of Pacific Islanders living in the country. One model will not suit all. There has already been a good deal of work done to bring traditional models together with contemporary viewpoints, and the study acknowledges the part Christianity plays in the lives of Pacific Island people.

Development of a child, adolescent and family mental health service for Pacific young people in Aotearoa/New Zealand, by Allister Bush and others.
While there is a mixed PI population in the Porirua area, the report tends to focus on the Samoan people and their approaches to children and family in the mental health context. This perhaps gives it a more specialised focus than it might otherwise have, but it also helps to show that each Island group needs to be addressed in a different way. This report has a number of 'stories' of different children and families that have been helped by the service.

Neither of these reports is long, but each of them gives considerable insight into the cultural needs of people groups that are now an established part of New Zealand's multicultural makeup. And there are many insights into the way in which we 'palangi' need to be aware of Pasifika traditions, spirituality and behaviours.

Link to the photo's original site

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