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Roman Kingi Wani Erick Vili Hapaki Nosa Janine Paynter Debra de Silva


Introduction: Mental wellbeing is a growing health issue for Pacific Islands communities (Pasifika), particularly amongst people who have resettled in a different country. We explored whether Pasifika people living in Australia think mental health services meet their needs.

Methods: We ran eight two-hour focus groups with 183 adults living in Queensland, Australia. There were representatives from the following ethnic groups: Cook Islands, Fiji, Maori, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga. We also included mental health providers. We analysed the feedback using thematic analysis.

Findings: Pasifika people welcomed having an opportunity to discuss mental wellbeing openly. They said that economic issues, social isolation, cultural differences, shame and substance use contributed to increasingly poor mental health amongst Pasifika communities in Australia. They wanted to work with mainstream services to develop culturally appropriate and engaging models to support mental wellbeing. They suggested opportunities to harness churches, community groups, schools, social media and radio to raise awareness about mental health. 

Conclusions: Working in partnership with Pasifika communities could strengthen mainstream mental health services and reduce the burden on acute services in Australia. This could include collecting better ethnicity data to help plan services, empowering community structures to promote mental wellbeing and training staff to support Pasifika communities. The key message was that services can work ‘with’ Pasifika communities, not ‘to’ them.

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Original Research

How to Cite

Pasifika preferences for mental health support in Australia: focus group study. (2021). Pacific Health Dialog, 21(7), 373-379.