Mental health training addresses a priority raised by the Pacific community

A four-day mental health training session for staff of Pasifika Futures partners, The Fono and Etu Pasifika has given front line workers the basic tools to provide psychological interventions to further support their families and communities. 

The training session has proven to be a timely one, with the recent announcement that the New Zealand Government has injected an additional $6.6 million of funding to focus solely on accessing mental health and addiction services amongst the Pacific community.

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member and psychiatrist Dr Siale Foliaki, MBCHP, FRANZCP, led the four-day training session earlier this month, which was called “Our Way, One Purpose, One Voice – Ngalu Fanifo – A new wave for mental well-being”. The training session incorporated basic psychological exercises and talanoa sessions where some of the 80 participants shared their deep and personal stories.

“It was pretty powerful and a very emotional process of training. I’ve never been a part of anything like this. By putting these practises in primary care, you can see the improvement of both physical and psychological outcomes for our people.”

Dr Foliaki says it’s important to give front line staff at these medical centres the basic tools.

“You don’t have to be a clinical psychiatrist to use these interventions. Having access to this range of skills dramatically improves the ability to have effective communication and there is strong evidence that it improves people’s adherence to medication and management of chronic conditions.”

Pasifika Futures Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, says the program focuses on building relationships with each other, the families we serve and our communities.

“Our communities have told us that responding and supporting families with Mental Health needs are a priority. 

We have the opportunity now to support our communities with a skilled and trained workforce of practitioners who understand the context of our lives, understand our uniqueness and diversity, and who can access the resources families need to manage their own mental health challenges.”


Date: Tuesday 20 April 2021