Thursday, 29 November 2018

Te Kaveinga – Mental Health and Wellbeing of Pacific Peoples  in New Zealand

Pacific and General

Te Kaveinga – Mental Health and Wellbeing of Pacific Peoples  in New Zealand

Te Kaveinga highlights key findings about mental health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples in 2015 and 2016 from two population surveys: the New Zealand Mental Health Monitor and the Health and Lifestyles Survey. 


Key findings:

  • Pacific peoples are well connected socially and culturally 
  • Cultural connectedness is weaker in multi-ethnic Pacific peoples and Pacific peoples whose heritage is from Pacific nations where there is a constitutional agreement with New Zealand (ie, Cook Islands Māori, Niueans and Tokelauans)
  • Pacific peoples, on average, report higher psychological distress and depressive symptoms over the past 2 to 4 weeks than the Others (ie, non-Māori, non-Pacific people) 
  • The stigma surrounding mental health issues is high among Pacific peoples 
  • Some Pacific peoples don’t know where to get help for mental distress and awareness of national mental health websites is low 


Suggested mental health promotion implications: 

  • Diversify what ‘culturally appropriate’ health promotion looks like for Pacific peoples to ensure the wide range of Pacific peoples are reached by initiatives 
  • Raise awareness of the mental health care pathways available to Pacific peoples, including the national websites
  • Reduce stigma among Pacific communities to help remove barriers to accessing care and social inclusion
  • Continue to strengthen the Pacific mental health and addictions workforce to remove barriers to accessing care
  • Through further research, explore how cultural identity relates to Pacific mental health and wellbeing, and how it could be used in innovative approaches to mental health promotion for Pacific peoples


Another key finding of interest is that multi-ethnic Pacific/Other peoples have a higher prevalence of mental distress over their lifetime than sole-Pacific. This is something to be explored further, particularly given the increasing numbers of multi-ethnic Pacific young people. Although the surveys used for this report did not look at mental health service use in detail, it is evident from the results that some Pacific peoples don’t know where to go for help. Furthermore, awareness of the national mental health websites is low. It is also evident that stigma surrounding mental illness is high among Pacific peoples. All of these factors pose barriers to mental health care access and we know from existing research that Pacific peoples under utilise community mental health services. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of continuing work to reduce stigma around mental distress and illness, and enhancing awareness of the pathways that Pacific peoples have to accessing mental health care. At the same time it is important to continue to strengthen the Pacific workforce and culturally appropriate models of care so that Pacific peoples feel safe and understood when using the mental health services available to them.


You can read the full report here.


Cover artwork: The artwork on the cover is titled ‘Kaute magenta’ (Magenta hibiscus), painted in oils on Belgian linen, by Joanna Ataera-Minster. The work was painted in Avarua, Rarotonga at Inanui Art Gallery. It is dedicated to the memory of the artist’s uncle Eruera Te Whiti Nia, who provided the space for painting and shared a love of art, music and empowerment of all Pacific peoples.

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