Mental health support for Pasifika receives funding

A Pasifika charitable trust is thrilled with the funding to expand on primary mental health and addiction services for Pacific people in New Zealand.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa recently announced a $NZ1.5 million boost to grow primary mental health and addiction services for Pacific peoples in Auckland, Hamilton and Canterbury.

K'Aute Pasifika Trust in Hamilton, which provided services for children and young people, and a day programme for adults, received funding to grow its services.

Chief Executive Leaupepe Rachel Karalus said the funding would make a significant impact now as there was increased anxiety among Pacific children and young people the last time New Zealand was in lockdown.

"The expansion services has come at a very critical time in terms of what's happening on the ground for our families. We will be employing a clinical lead and three community support workers," Karalus said.

"The funding will largely feed into our mental health support, so we've been very fortunate in terms of the people we have recruited into these community support worker roles. They're qualified social workers and counsellors."

Karalus shared that their day programme for adults would get some attention too with this funding.

"We've already had a day programme, which was run on a weekly basis, but it has grown to such a number that we wanted to be able to add in another day, but also to separate out those who were coming to our day programme for mental health related issues and those that were in the elderly and isolated space because the two groups have different needs," she said.

"Part of our bid for the expansion of our mental health services was related to meeting the needs of that particular cohort of people requiring extra mental health support coming to the day programme."

Pasifika Futures received funding to expand services through The Fono, Aotearoa New Zealand's largest by Pacific-for-Pacific health service, to expand the range of services they already provided.

This included establishing a new mental health service in West Auckland.

Etu Pasifika in Canterbury would also receive a funding boost to expand their services.

Salesa said expanding services for Pacific peoples was part of a five-year programme that also included dedicated funding for Māori and young people.

"There is strong evidence that people receiving mental health and wellbeing support in a culturally safe and inclusive way are much more likely to have a positive experience and better results," she said.

"We've started with expanding programmes that already exist, but there's more to come in terms of establishing entirely new services around the country.

The minister said the focus was on providing mental well-being support early and quickly to help people stay well.

"This is about developing existing services that are working well. Working with established providers means that services can be expanded rapidly, and that people can have confidence that services will be there when they need them."

In April, the government announced $NZ40 million for new integrated primary and community mental health services which will see more than 350 health improvement practitioners, health coaches and support workers.