Youth and Mental Health (YMH) Project

Project Coordinator

The Youth and Mental Health (YMH) Project has its roots in an earlier FSPI project that studied Male and Masculinity and Mental Health (MMMH) in the region. In 2004, MMMH got underway with a situational analysis of youths in four countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

When this phase was completed in 2006, the results revealed certain common features that are indicative of regional pressures on the lives of Pacific youths. Most of these pressures arise from the socio-cultural and economic transitions occurring across the Pacific region.

Limited employment and economic opportunity to participate in the emerging modern lifestyles has led to personal mental stress, social exclusion, unemployment, the development of subgroup of disaffected youth who may resort to range of questionable means of acquiring the resources for daily living.  In response to this background, the Youth and Mental Health Project was developed as the 2nd and expanded Phase of a MH Project focused on understanding the needs and services and advocating for improvement in the mental health of Pacific Youth

Where we work:

The Youth and Mental Health (YMH) project addresses the inter-related issues of youth in relation to mental health in the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa.

What we do:

The project aims to promote better coping skills and strategies to manage mental health among youth and overall to improve mental health of Pacific youth.

The project will achieve this through two main objectives. It promotes and facilitates the development of gender-sensitive support services for youth to build a coalition of service providers at the community and national level. It builds knowledge among youth themselves on mental health issues that affect their lives to develop and advocate for effective coping strategies and access to support services.

These two key objectives have been divided into four components for implementation:

  • Awareness, Education and Sustainable Livelihoods: Aims to raise awareness on mental health among communities, policy makers and the private sectors.
  • Research: Youth and Mental Health-related research is undertaken and published to define the existing issues, services and possible routes of effective action for sustainable work in the mental health area.
  • Promotion: Youth for mental health forums, engaging both young men and women, to develop gender-sensitive strategies and behaviour change communication for health promotion, and actions to enhance the mental well being of individuals, families, organisations and communities.
  • Advocacy: Most Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are in the process of reviewing Mental Health legislations and do not yet have effective and proactive national mental health policies. FSPI Health Programme works actively to develop collaborative consultation and input into policy development.

How we work:

Overarching regional coordination will be managed by the Regional Health team based in Suva, Fiji Islands. The team has a Programme Manager and a Coordinator. Each of the eight Network Partners have a YMH coordinator to implement this project within communities. Each country programme establishes a Mental Health Working Group to guide and advise their programme and develop strategies for research, educational awareness, advocacy on key mental health issues and mental health promotion strategies.

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