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Pasifika approaches to mental illness

November 12, 2008
Pasifika approaches to understanding mental illness

(Wellington, New Zealand) Stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness will be examined in a Pasifika cultural context this week at the bi-annual Pacific Providers fono in Wellington, part of the Ministry of Health’s Like Minds, Like Mine programme.

Organised by Vakaola Pacific Community Health with the assistance of the Mental Health Foundation, the fono will be held over two days at the PIC Church Hall, 207 Champion St, Cannons Creek, Porirua, from November 13-14.

“This fono is an opportunity for service users, families, and communities to come together, share their experiences and thoughts,” says Mailigi Hetutu, Community Support Worker at Vakaola. “We’ll look at ways to move forward together under our theme, ‘What You Do Makes The Difference’.”

The first day will be a community day where culturally appropriate methods for countering stigma and discrimination against people experiencing mental illness will be discussed. The second day will be reserved for regional providers of the Like Minds programme to develop their programmes for the coming year.

One of the fono’s keynote speakers will be Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. A consistent supporter of the Like Minds programme and its messages, Dr Tukuitonga’s career history include positions as head of the surveillance and prevention of chronic diseases at the World Health Organisation, and director of public health and medical officer of health for New Zealand.

As understanding of mental illness is culturally based, events such as the Pacific Providers fono help to strengthen approaches to address the needs of specific population groups with experience of mental illness, one of the key goals of the Like Minds, Like Mine programme.


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