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Pacific Mental Health Leaders Conduct International Exchange

Aotearoa’s national Pasifika primary prevention organisation, Le Va, is hosting a delegation of Pacific mental health thought leaders from around the world for a week-long exchange of ideas from March 18.

In attendance are representatives from the Pacific Behavioral Health Collaborating Council (PBHCC), which is a partnership between six US affiliated Pacific Island jurisdictions – the Republic of Palau, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, American Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia.

PBHCC’s vision is: ‘Pacific Island communities, families and individuals who are substance abuse free and have access to optimal mental health care.’

Their visit to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is co-hosted by Le Va, the Global Leadership Exchange (GLE) and Te Pou to connect Pasifika leaders in the fields of mental health, addiction and disability.

Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave, Chief Executive of Le Va, said of the event, “Last year Le Va and GLE signed a memorandum of understanding with the intention of growing an international network of strong leadership to support the wellbeing of our communities in Aotearoa.

“This international exchange is the first tangible outcome arising from our partnership, which we hope will lead to improved wellbeing outcomes for all of our Pacific peoples.”

The week-long event began with a traditional Tongan kava ceremony to welcome the international guests from PBHCC, who included Reyna Saures (Vice President), Dr Theresa Arriola (Director), and James Arriola (Executive Director).

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Acting US Consulate General Alexia Branch and Mara Hosoda Su’a (US Pacific Regional Engagement Specialist, US Consulate General Auckland) joined the welcome, alongside representatives from Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora, Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, and Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health.

Discussions and presentations followed on international collaboration and implementation strategies to enhance mental health and addiction services globally.

Future collaboration between the organisations and agencies present will connect leaders in these sectors to help find solutions for our communities in Aotearoa, the Pacific and around the world.

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