30 Sep 2021

Pasifika youth wellbeing affected by lockdown

1:31 pm on 30 September 2021

A Pacific mental health survey has found nearly half of Pasifika youth reported lockdown having an impact on their mental wellbeing, but most say they're coping now.

Pacific Mental health group Le Va surveyed 827 Pasifika aged 16-30, mainly in Auckland, and although nearly half said lockdown has had an effect, 90 percent of respondents rated their mental health as average or above average. Youth who took part predominantly identified as Samoan (59 percent), Tongan (28 percent) and Cook Island (11 percent).

Vaccination buses ready to leave Auckland Airport vaccination drive though.

Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

At least a quarter of participants say they weren't hopeful about the future.

Le Va chief executive Denise Kingi-Uluave said Pasifika youth want support during lockdown, not after it ends.

Major stressors identified were not being able to see friends and family, educational responsibilities, and boredom.

"One of their top stressors was school responsibilities. What I would like is to make sure that we are focusing on what are the issues that are causing young people stress."

A total of 62 percent of participants reported that strategies to cope with distress would be helpful.

Other wellbeing information deemed helpful was building self-worth through cultural identity, problem-solving skills, how to check in on others and tools to maintain respectful relationships.

During the lockdown listening to music, connecting with friends and family, and exercise were ways youth were managing with stress.

"It is likely that we could witness an increase in anxiety among Pasifika youth as they prepare for a return to school, particularly if they have been unable to complete school tasks during lockdown."

She said it was important that we focus our attention on the issues that are leading to distress during lockdown with young people rather than on the lockdown per se, particularly given the likelihood we may experience lockdown again in the future.