The Pasifika communities living in Aotearoa come from many different cultures and speak a range of languages. While that makes our lives richer, it can be tricky when it comes to talking about difficult things, like mental health.
For many of our communities there are strong feelings of shame and guilt around mental health problems. These feelings can make it hard to open up to our families, elders or friends.
If you can’t talk to anyone about what you are going through, it’s easy to stay away or hide your feelings from those who love you. But if you find someone to talk to, things will start to get better.
What depression and anxiety looks like
Everybody experiences depression and anxiety differently. We think about these things in different ways and we even use different languages to talk about it.
Here are some common things people notice when people are depressed or anxious:
sleeping more or less than usual
not enjoying things you normally do
not wanting to go to church or participate in usual group activities such as sports teams
For many of us, family is important to us, as is our faith. Being part of church and other community groups can help us feel like we belong. And when things get really hard, it’s usually them who are there to help.
These connections to family, friends, and other groups can be a big source of strength. These are the people who care about you and will want to help you feel better.
There are lots of things you can do with either friends or family to help you get better:
Explore your culture and history to learn more about yourself
Talk about your feelings with someone you trust
Do something you enjoy with them
Go to community events together
Learn a new skill from someone
Get them to give you a hand with these self-help ideas
Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Kia Orana, Fakalofa lahi Atu, Ni sa Bula Vinaka. Afio mai, maliu mai, tala mai o a'ao.
Warm Pacific Greetings. My name is Eroni Clarke, and I want to take the pleasure of welcoming you to this website. You know, many of our friends and our kāinga have experienced anxiety and depression. But on this website you’ll be able to find important information, resources and tools, that’ll help you and them take those steps towards health and wellbeing. And remember: you’re not alone.
For Pacific people, depression and anxiety are something that we sense. It’s something that we feel; and we sense it in our guts, in our ngākau. We sense it in our heart - our pūmanawa; and we sense it in our minds.
That feeling of being alone; that feeling of something being different on the inside, to the outside. So we might be laughing, but actually, on the inside there is no spark; there’s no fire; there’s no enjoyment in things.
Sometimes it’s a little bit like falling off a vaka into the cold water, with waves hitting us; and at that point in time, what we really need to do is reach out and get help. We need somebody to come along and pull us back up into the vaka - a place of safety.
Often the feelings of guilt and shame can be overwhelming. And it’s really important for us all to remember, that actually, storms and hurricanes can hit anywhere; we can't predict. But what's really important is that there’s no shame in seeking help and getting out of the storm.
Recognising the signs of anxiety and depression is something that we as Pacific families can do. As Papa Mau, the famous navigator, said:
“Do not pray for fair weather, for fair weather will not make you a master. Instead, pray for courage.”
On this website, you can learn the signs of depression and anxiety.
For Pacific people, our relationships are hugely important; and connecting to others is one way that we can work through depression and anxiety. Connecting with other people; connecting with the world around us; and connecting with our faith.
Connecting means, an exchange, a passing of understanding, smiles, intentions. It doesn’t just mean talking; it means being there. It means listening. It means being present. There are many things that can help Pacific people when they have depression and anxiety.
One of them is to reconnect with who you used to be. It is to do the things that you used to love. It is to see the people that you do love. It is to reconnect with activities and things that you really enjoy doing. Another one is to reconnect with your body; to work-out; treat your body well; treat yourself well; look after yourself. And then there is reconnecting with our culture, and our history.
We all carry within us, amazing stories of resilience, of survival; and this comes in our culture, and it also comes in our DNA. This is about the legacy of your tupuna - You, living the life that you were born to live, and thriving in it.
You can find many other things to help you get better, on this website.
Use this form if you’ve got suggestions or questions about this website. Your email will be replied to during office hours. If you need to talk with the Depression Helpline, please use this email form – they’re available 24/7.
This support is only available for people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Thanks for getting in touch
We will get back to you as soon as we can, but if you need urgent help please contact the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757.