Ora’anga, Cook Island for ‘Working towards Wellness’, is a Pacific community service that offers Pasifika people with mild to moderate mental health and addiction needs, the support they need to prevent these from continuing long-term.
Established in 2020, Ora’anga expanded to multiple Pacific-led organisations, with Pacific Homecare (PHC) now being part of that group. Currently, PHC has a team of four Ora’anga Coordinators. Whānau Ora Navigator, Rosita (Ora’anga Lead) entered the team, where she is joined by Ora’anga Coordinators, Leolasi, Fa’aiuga and Ora’anga Cultural Coordinator, Panapa.
With the department including one Whānau Ora Navigator, this allows families they serve to connect with Ora’anga if they are in need of mental health and/or addiction support. Alleviating stresses they may be feeling in their everyday lives.
This year, the team aim to create a safe and accessible service that positively impacts our families, especially our Pasifika people, in the mental health space. Through Pasifika models and processes, the Ora’anga team have found ways that specifically support the people in our community.
See below what they had to say about their roles and the services they offer.
What inspired you to pursue this role?
Rosita: With my background in Social Work, I was drawn to pursue this role because I feel this role was a chance to be able to expand my experiences and knowledge of what this role can do for not only myself but the people around me. As a Pasifika woman, I felt that it was important for me to be able to connect to our people in a way that would resonate with them and be able to get the message across the importance of taking care of your mental health and utilise the mental health services that are available to our Pasifika people.
Leolasi: Some of my friends and family are going through some mental health challenges and I felt the need to be educated on this so I can best support them. Now, it’s become my passion to help support people dealing with mental health but especially within my Pasifika community.
Fa’aiuga: The fact that it is a community job that’s main focus was our Pacific people. As well as it is a mental health initiative to help open this conversation within our Pacific community.
What does mental health mean to you?
Leolasi: Mental health to me is a way of life that affects us emotionally and psychologically and affects our social well-being. It also affects how we think, act and feel. It also determines how we relate to others on a daily basis, makes healthy choices and how we handle stress.
What is one way to better our mental health and well-being?
Rosita: Everyone has their own journey with their mental health. But I feel it’s good to have a good support system where you can confide in and you are comfortable when you are not doing okay. Also, take time out for yourself. There is no harm or shame in taking a self-care day. There’s no better way in bettering your mental health than focusing on yourself and what you need to maintain a healthy well-being.
Leolasi: One way you can better your mental health for me is to make ‘self-care’ a priority. Sometimes when we’re so fixated on looking out for others (which is not a bad thing), we tend to forget to look after ourselves. When our mental health is in good health, we will see that we enjoy life, our environment and the people in it.
Fa’aiuga: Having open conversations and making sure you are self-aware of what you are feeling and seeking help when you feel like it’s too much for you to handle on your own.
How can people access this support?
Rosita: Our entry/access point is through the Auckland DHB area. This support can be either for an individual, group, or community and it will be accessed in that area. Any of our Pasifika people can access this support through our registration forms and review assessments.
How have you seen the Ora’anga programme support our Pacific people?
Rosita: I have seen this service connect with our Pasifika community via fitness classes, and health education and this has opened safe spaces for those who have attended to come forth and ask for help. It is a growing service that we hope to be able to have that same impact on our people. I feel that since we have been isolating ourselves for the past few years due to Covid some of our families have been affected by it immensely and it is a good feeling to be able to relieve some of that stress that they have had and be able to see them grow within themselves and with their family and communities that surround them.
Thank you to our Ora’anga Coordinators for your continuous support and advice regarding the mental health sector. A group of bright staff of Pacific Homecare, here to support fellow Pasifika people in our community.