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Aim: By employing a multi-faceted approach in the disciplines of Theology and Pacific Studies; three key areas of investigation were examined and included: how young Pacific women perceived images of God and faith; how it impacted upon their mental resilience and their responses to mundane and significant life events; and their personal constructs of mental wellbeing.
Method: Qualitative group interviews (talanoa) were conducted with participants aged between 17-24 years old; identified with multiple ethnicities, with at least one being Pacific; identified as Roman Catholic, with varying degrees of faith practice; and were based in Auckland, Aotearoa. The Praxis Model methodology was employed throughout the research process and speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of the project. The theory of Intersectionality was utilized as the lens to view each research participants’ multi-layered self-identities.
Findings: There were a total of 64 research participants. Out of the 64 participants, 82% (n=52), generally agreed that their image of God aided a positive state of mental wellbeing, five women were unsure and six stated, that it was something else in their faith practice which primarily supported their mental wellbeing. Part of the reason women felt their image of God offered hope for their future, derived from their belief in an afterlife beyond physical death, which they felt, reduced anxiety about their family members who had died or experienced sickness and trauma throughout their lives
Conclusions: There is a need for more denomination-specific and culturally responsive foci around mental wellbeing, therefore recognising the unique experiences of faith traditions and the challenges faced, particularly, by multi-ethnic young Pacific women.
Key words: Mental wellbeing, Pacific, Theology
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