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Enhancing resilience of Pacific youth in South Auckland

29 April 2021   /   News & reports
Dr Glenn Doherty

Foundation North has recently granted $98,100 to The Tongan Health Society to support its wellbeing work with young Pacific people in Auckland.

The Tongan Health Society offers a youth-navigator led programme designed to prevent suicide and suicidal thoughts in high-risk Pacific youth in South Auckland. Concerning statistics show that Pacific peoples have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts than all other ethnic groups living in New Zealand (ref: Tiatia-Seath, Jemaima, 2016). Moreover, Pacific people are less likely to access mental health services in comparison to all other New Zealanders. The Tongan Health Society seeks to break down barriers for Pacific people in accessing services and support, as well as improving their overall mental wellbeing.

The youth-navigator programme provides evidence-based classroom sessions, teaching mechanisms to overcome self-defeating thoughts, and enhancing youth-resilience against risk factors associated with suicide. The programme also offers outdoor group sessions in local natural environments, helping young people to develop skills to express feelings when dealing with difficult issues, whilst building youth inclusion and connectedness among peers.

“Our goal as an organisation has always been to create positive and long-lasting impact in the lives of our clients,” says Dr Glenn Doherty, CEO and Clinical Director at The Tongan Health Society. “By using a logic model, we provide navigation services to allow clients and families to be engaged, educated, enabled and empowered”.

Dr Doherty says that a key driver for success of the programme is the strong integration with the wider Pasifika community through existing partnerships with churches, schools, and other local Pacific youth groups.

“Through this programme, we will utilise our existing strong relationships with Healthy Village Action Zones church youth groups across the Auckland region, by partnering with members to co-design the programme, along with integrating education and awareness sessions into those church and youth groups.”

For Dr Doherty, the outcomes of the wellbeing programme will have intergenerational benefits.

“Our programme will empower young people to achieve greater resilience and independence to become an essential contributor to society, family, and the community, which will have a positive effect on mental health for generations to come.”