16 Oct 2012

Hopes new study will reveal mental health of Samoa immigrants to NZ

4:50 am on 16 October 2012

It's hoped that a study that will look into the prevalence of mental illness in Samoa could also help shed light on mental health issues experience by Samoans who migrate to countries like New Zealand.

The prevalence study is the first of it's kind in the Pacific, and is being spearheaded by Samoa's Ministry of Health.

A psychiatrist with Faleola Mental Health Services in Auckland, Leota Dr Lisi Petaia, is involved in the study.

She says Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand show a 25 percent prevalence rate of mental disorders, compared to the rest of the population at 20 percent.

Leota says this is an alarming figure, but so far, their work in Samoa has shown the prevalence rate to be quite low - and she expects the study will confirm this.

"If it comes out as we predicted, it's low, then that's interesting. Why is it that Samoa has got low rates of mental disorders compared to Pacific people that migrate to places like New Zealand. It will be useful to know what the reasons are and hopefully from that we can develop some kind of intervention to help Pacific people in New Zealand."

Leota Dr Lisi Petaia.