3 Oct 2016

Pasifika need better access to mental health services

11:33 am on 3 October 2016

A New Zealand NGO specialising in Pasifika health issues says new approaches may be needed to address rising cases of mental illness.

Le Va looked into the mental health services it provides during Suicide Prevention Month in September, to see what produced the best results.

Le Va Chief Executive Monique Faleafa

The chief executive of Le Va, Monique Faleafa, says new approaches may be needed to combat rising cases of mental illness. Photo: Le Va / Tongan High Commission, Canberra

Its chief executive, Monique Faleafa, said programmes for Pasifika people must be customised in the same way youth programmes are different from ones for adults.

Ms Faleafa said most importantly, services must make themselves more accessible.

"The biggest problem we have in New Zealand is that our Pacific families and communities seem to have extremely high rates of mental illness but really low rates of access to services and what we see is Pacific families accessing in crisis when we could have saved so much grief and disruption and distress for that family if we had of intervened really early."

She said work also has to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness within the community.