Manawatu Standard

Asians seek wellness support

- Lucy Xia

A charity providing mental health support for Asian Kiwis says their needs are not being properly addressed by the Government.

‘‘Currently, the Ministry of Health has no policy for Asian mental health, which means no strategy,’’ Asian Family Services ( AFS) national director Kelly Feng said.

A report from the chief coroner showed Asian suicide rates increased from 5.09 to 7.91 per 100,000 people in the year to June 20, 2020.

A 2019 report on understand­ing suicide in the Asian population said government mental health policies for Asian and refugee communitie­s are under-developed.

Feng said the Government needs to ‘‘look at how [it wants] to respond to this population at a national level’’.

AFS received a short-term grant to help support Asians through Covid-19, but that ended in February.

The grant went towards running a helpline for Asians experienci­ng distress due to the pandemic.

Feng said there needs to be more sustainabl­e government funding to address mental health issues among Asians.

‘‘Many [Asian people] don’t know the New Zealand health system ... even if they know how to access [it], there is a lack of culturally appropriat­e services,’’ she said.

The high proportion of Asians working in internatio­nal business and tourism – some of the sectors hardest-hit by Covid-19 – also meant many suffered financial difficulty which in turn impacted mental health, she said. Distress caused by discrimina­tion and domestic violence was also more marked during Covid-19.

Counties Manukau District Health Board member Paul Young agreed the Ministry of Health needs to invest more in mental health services for Asian Kiwis.

‘‘I hope we can strengthen mental health support for Asian people, through education and awareness, more resources, and more research,’’ he said. ‘‘The DHB mental health services need to find out the needs [of Asians], not just give translatio­n services.’’

Young said community organisati­ons providing mental health support to ethnic communitie­s should also be prioritise­d. The ministry said in a statement it

Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.

0800 842 846.

0800 543 354.

0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.

0800 376 633, free text 234, email

received $15 million in Covid-19 response funding to address mental health and wellbeing.

It did not respond to a question about whether there are any funding boosts planned to address the mental health needs of Asian Kiwis.

The ministry also did not say whether there are any reviews of Asian mental health planned. The last time a review was commission­ed by the ministry on this topic was 2002/03.

The Te Anau community has rallied around the family of a local policeman who is in a ‘‘world of pain’’ after suffering burns to 18 per cent of his body. Constable Krisdale caught fire from a gas cooker which hewas using to boil a stag’s head in his garage on April 9. Dale’s wife, Jamie, said hewas a keen hunter andwas boiling down the head as hewanted to display it with the antlers and it was a task he had done before. Hearing the gas bottle ‘‘flare’’, he had gone to turn it off butwas engulfed in flames. Jamie Dale understood the gas bottle had been on fire. ‘‘He came running back past the house, we sawhim on fire.’’ He ripped off his T-shirt and got into the shower. But unknown to her, he then ran back out to the garage, was thrown a fire extinguish­er by a neighbour and extinguish­ed burning blankets inside the garage, she said. The former volunteer firefighte­r suffered burns to his hands, arms, chest, neck and face, with his hands the worst affected with ‘‘full thickness burns’’, his wife said. His full recovery could take six months.

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Paul Young

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