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Penina Uliuli

Penina Uliuli: Contemporary Challenges in Mental Health for Pacific Peoples

Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Penina Uliuli
    Book Description:

    This diverse collection of essays examines important issues related to mental health among Pacific Islanders through the topics of identity, spirituality, the unconscious, mental trauma, and healing.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6391-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction: On Building a Fale
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    On a sunny Auckland spring day in October 2003, Margaret Agee and Philip Culbertson, faculty members at the University of Auckland, were enjoying a collegial cup of coffee. Philip had just received notice that his 1997 book,Counselling Issues and South Pacific Communities, was going out of print, and the two were sharing their frustration at how difficult it is to locate the formally and informally published work of Pasifika colleagues in the field of counseling. This lack serves as the primary impediment to the dissemination and advancement of multicultural theories and creative developments in practice in the mental health...

  4. Pacific Identities

    • Editors’ Introduction
      (pp. 3-4)

      The first five essays provide insights into aspects of Pacific identities. As a professional working with young people, Siautu Alefaio introduces some of the challenges faced by Pacific youth—including both New Zealand–born and immigrants—growing up within a contemporary urban environment. For a young person whose identity is formed within the collective contexts of family and church, the associated values, roles, and expectations are in many ways at odds with the other formative contexts in which they live their lives. These include the culture and values of Western society, the expectations of schools and tertiary educational institutions, as...

    • 1 Supporting the Wellbeing of Pasifika Youth
      (pp. 5-15)

      Growing up in South Auckland, the heart of Polynesia in Aotearoa/New Zealand, was never an easy feat. The stories of young people describing their journeys as they experienced living in two worlds, the Pasifika world and the pālagi world, became significant to me as a young adult finding my way through life in a tertiary institution. These stories prompted me to undertake a thesis investigating young people’s perceptions of their identity in the context of their families and communities and the process of adjustment that occurs when the unfamiliar norms and values of the host culture are encountered. The experience...

    • 2 Affirming Works: A Collective Model of Pasifika Mentoring
      (pp. 16-25)

      Pacific peoples from many islands have made the journey of migration to New Zealand. Despite the differing traditional social structures among diverse Pasifika cultures, these provide a common basis for Pasifika people’s sense of collective identity. In Auckland, sometimes called the largest Polynesian city in the world, the Pacific population comprises many different ethnicities. The five major ethnic groups that are scattered among the population of Auckland are Samoans, Cook Islanders, Tongans, Niueans, and Tokelauans. Smaller Pasifika groups include Fijians, Tuvaluans, Tahitians, and Kiribatis. Within this large Pasifika population, almost 60 percent are New Zealand–born (Statistics New Zealand, 2002)....

    • 3 Canoe Noses and Coconut Feet: Reading the Samoan Male Body
      (pp. 26-38)

      Niko Besnier (1994) comments upon the fusion of Christianity and cultural traditions in Pasifika:

      For many contemporary Pacific peoples, Christianity and “tradition” are so embroiled with one another that they have become the same in certain areas … As a result, many social formations and cultural processes in the Pacific cannot be successfully understood without reference to the Christian context in which they are embedded, and, in turn, Christianity in the region can only be studied in tandem with society and culture. (p. 33 9)

      Though Besnier is writing about Nukulaelae atoll in Tuvalu, his observation is true of most...

    • 4 Jonah, Arnold, and Me: Reading the Tongan Male Body
      (pp. 39-48)

      Exploring the social construction of the physical body is, for a Tongan, like being born into a whole new unknown world. I am a 26-year-old Tongan male, born and raised in Tonga all my life, until two years ago, when I moved to Auckland. In my whole life thus far, I have never been encouraged to think about my own body, even for a moment. I don’t understand why; perhaps it is because the society I have grown up in did not allow me to think about my body. My mind and my soul, yes, but not my body. As...

    • 5 Being ‘Afakasi
      (pp. 49-62)

      A particular challenge facing those who work in the field of Pasifika mental health and wellbeing is the way in which significant aspects of the life experiences of many people remain cloaked in silence. This silence characterizes the way in which the community has responded to some issues that evoke discomfort or ambivalence, or attract social censure. One such challenge is the acknowledgment of those who are‘afakasi, or half-caste. Ways need to be found to validate their life experiences and worldview, in order to support them in claiming a place of belonging.

      In attempting to break the silence, we...

  5. Issues in Pacific Spirituality

    • 6 Spiritual Injury: A Samoan Perspective on Spirituality’s Impact on Mental Health
      (pp. 66-76)

      There is an increasing acceptance of spirituality as an important part of health care among consumers, service users, community health workers, and health professionals. Even some clinicians, health care providers, and policy makers have recognized that spirituality is an important part of at least some consumers’ healing and recovery process. There are now health documents from the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and especially the Mental Health Commission, which mention spirituality (see, for example, Mental Health Commission, 2004). Most policies do not exclude or forbid spirituality if it is part of a service user’s recovery. Training of community support workers,...

    • 7 Making Culture “God” Is Driving Our People Crazy!
      (pp. 77-86)

      Cabrini:In my following remarks, I do not wish to dismiss or deny the many positive and affirming aspects of our Pasifika cultures. Rather, this is an attempt to address the ways in which the shadow side of Pasifika needs transforming.

      Philip: Cabrini, at a moment in history when the whole Pacific is struggling against both globalization and the long-term effects of European colonization, to make a statement like “Making culture ‘God’ is driving our people crazy!” sounds pretty radical to me.

      Cabrini: Earlier, I was looking in the dictionary, and it definedcrazyin two ways: as “insane” or...

    • 8 The Schizophrenic Church
      (pp. 87-93)

      Samoan Christian or Christian Samoan? I remember a Samoan clergyman asking me that question when I was a young teenager. Which comes first, he asked, or is there no distinction? He said being a Christian and being Samoan are so intertwined that culture and Christianity determine each other.

      I have titled this essay “The Schizophrenic Church” because the church has always been seen as the place we must go, as spiritual people, to receive spiritual blessings in order for our lives to be successful and useful to our people. At the same time if we didn’t go to church we...

    • 9 New Zealand–born Samoan Young People, Suicidal Behaviors, and the Positive Impact of Spirituality
      (pp. 94-104)

      I am a New Zealand–born Samoan woman, interested in the improvement of the overall spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing of Samoan and Pacific young people in Aotearoa/New Zealand, particularly in relation to suicidal behaviors. Apart from personal associations with young people who had undertaken suicidal behaviors, it was brought to my attention, through a comprehensive search of the literature, that the information available about such young people was predominantly written in the 1980s. Moreover, much of the literature regarding Samoan youth suicidal behaviors focused largely upon the population in Samoa itself. Consequently, questions arose: Are the suicidal experiences of...

  6. The Pacific Unconscious

    • Editors’ Introduction
      (pp. 107-108)

      The following five essays address ways in which the unconscious—in the form of symbol, metaphor, mythology, and intrapersonal dimensions of being—serves as a rich resource in the world of Pacific identities, relationships, and healing. First, Cabrini Makasiale discusses the significance for Pacific Island people of the symbolic inner world and its expression in metaphor and relationship. In her essay she not only addresses these aspects of cultural awareness, but also provides a rare glimpse into the cross-cultural therapeutic process.

      Developing the focus on working with clients as well as the incorporation of mythology in therapeutic approaches, Karen Lupe...

    • 10 The Use of Symbol and Metaphor in Pasifika Counseling
      (pp. 109-121)

      Within the helping professions, theories of human development that inform our understanding of human nature have been associated with Western counseling theories and therapies. Today, however, there is a movement to recognize the validity of cultural perspectives that are other than Western. There is also a challenge, I believe, to uphold both the Western and non-Western models of human development as of equal significance.

      I wish to introduce a term that carries with it an inner attitude and dynamic that I believe to be essential in any cross-cultural interaction. The term isinterpathy, coined by Augsburger (1986, p. 27). He...

    • 11 An Ocean with Many Shores: Indigenous Consciousness and the Thinking Heart
      (pp. 122-135)

      I must confess to borrowing the words of my title from Jorge Ferrer’s bookRevisioning Transpersonal Theory. “An ocean with many shores” sounded so Pacific that I could not resist. Ferrer’s metaphoric ocean is the vast field of human spirituality where there are not many pathways to a single destination, but rather, many pathways to many destinations. The metaphor is well suited to the purpose of this essay.

      About ten years ago, I began to realize that there were different streams of human consciousness, and that the Western form was merely one of those streams. My subsequent research into depth...

    • 12 Hawaiki-Lelei: Journeys to Wellness
      (pp. 136-148)

      Hawaiki is the name often used by Māori to identify their ancestral homeland, before their migration to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Some believe that Hawai‘i is the original Hawaiki in the Pacific. Tahiti is another possible Hawaiki; Rarotonga another; and we might also include Samoa, as it has an island named Savai‘i (Hawai‘i) (Sutton, 2001). I would include Tonga, Niue, Tokelau, and all of the Pacific Islands as other Hawaikis. Like Sutton, I have chosen Hawaiki in my essay title to inspire our Pacific people to a proud remembrance of their heritage,whakapapa(genealogy), ancient traditions, and legends.

      I grew up in...

    • 13 Using Mea-alofa in a Holistic Model for Pasifika Clients: A Case Study
      (pp. 149-159)

      This essay grew out of my belief that when mental health problems occur with any Pasifika person, one treatment method is more effective than all others. When the client is dealt with in a culturally sensitive manner, working preferably with someone of her own culture, who speaks the same language, is of the same gender, and knows the cultural/spiritual values and beliefs of that client, then chances are that the treatment will be more successful in the end, than if she were seeing a counselor of another culture. It is vitally important that the initial assessment of the client be...

    • 14 “Keep Your Doughnuts to Yourself”: Using Poetry in Pasifika Professional Practice
      (pp. 160-176)

      In my training as a counselor, and now in my work as a counselor and group facilitator, I have repeatedly encountered clients in a great deal of emotional, personal, and relational pain. Being so constantly exposed to others’ pain inevitably resurrects the ancient hurt that any counselor carries around, left over from old wounds. In the pālagi world, this is sometimes called identification; at other times it is called the counselor’s transference, and it is seen as contributing to parallel process. Poetry helps me process my pain by making meaning of it through writing.

      I began writing poetry in 1996,...

  7. Pacific Trauma and Healing

    • 15 Colonialism, Acculturation, and Depression among Kānaka Maoli of Hawai‘i
      (pp. 180-195)

      Geologists tell us that the Hawaiian archipelago was created by volcanic activity and natural erosion over the millennia. Anthropologists tell us that the Kānaka Maoli¹ (meaning true or real humans and used to refer to all Hawaiians today) are descendants of early Polynesians who migrated out of Southeast Asia and Malaysia and who eventually settled in Hawai‘i about two thousand years ago. However, ourkūpuna(ancestors) have a different account of our existence. They tell us that the islands of Hawai‘inui-ākea (the great and vast Hawai‘i) were born of the gods—Papa-hānaumoku (mother earth) and Wākea (sky father)²—and that...

    • 16 Crisis in Paradise: Family Violence in Samoan Communities
      (pp. 196-206)

      Violence of any kind within the home has a direct impact on the mental and spiritual health of children. This essay looks at child abuse and domestic violence within Samoan communities. The essay offers some perspectives and learning to those who work with Samoan families, in the hope it may assist intervention to support them.

      The most dominant of all influences upon family life and child rearing within Samoan communities has been, and continues to be, religion (Meleisea, 1992; Ngan-woo, 1985). While there is an opinion that violent methods of child discipline have always been present in Samoan communities (Freeman,...

    • 17 Doing Good Work and Finding a Sense of Purpose: The Nature and Treatment of Substance Abuse among Native Hawaiians
      (pp. 207-220)

      According to most estimates, substance abuse among Native Hawaiians is increasing to an all-time high, with rates that are significantly higher than those for non-Hawaiians (Allan, 1998; Gartrell, Wood, & Ovenden, 2000; Hammond, 1988; Marsella, Oliveira, Plummer, & Crabbe, 1995; Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 2002). This increase is believed to be due in large part to the crystal methamphetamine (ice) epidemic that has taken hold in Hawai‘i. Alcohol and other drug abuse rates are also increasing rapidly, with serious negative health consequences for our people. The higher prevalence rates for these problem behaviors among Native Hawaiians, and their apparent resistance to typical...

    • 18 Pregnancy, Adoption, FASD, and Mental Illness
      (pp. 221-231)

      Through the twentieth century, research produced mounting evidence that in vitro exposure to alcohol can have devastating effects on the development of the unborn child. At a molecular level, “alcohol itself acts as a teratogen (an agent causing deformities) and specifically, as a neurotoxin (an agent that is toxic to brain cells and other nerve cells in the body)” (Kitson & Parackal, 2005). Throughout the lifespan, the consequent developmental impairment can result in complex psychological, learning, and behavioral problems. In a study of more than four hundred participants with a history of prenatal exposure to alcohol, Streissguth and O’Malley (1997) found...

    • 19 Misplaced Dreams: Tongan Gambling in Auckland
      (pp. 232-246)

      Anecdotal evidence that some Tongan families were suffering socially and economically as a result of gambling led to an investigation into why Tongan people in Auckland gamble. Tongans have been migrating from their group of 170 islands to Aotearoa/New Zealand since the 1960s in search of a better socioeconomic life. Discovering that problem gambling was already a major health and social issue within the Tongan community in Auckland, rather than an emerging one, was a rude awakening to the authors. In this essay we reflect on some of the findings from a study of gambling issues in the Auckland Tongan...

  8. A Bibliography of Pasifika Mental Health Resources
    (pp. 247-276)
  9. Index
    (pp. 277-287)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)