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Scholarships support Pacific talent into careers in mental health and addiction

Pacific people wanting to start or advance a career in mental health and addictions in 2016 can apply to get their fees paid with a Ministry of Health-funded Pacific Mental Health and Addiction scholarship.  

The Pacific population has higher rates of mental illness, substance abuse and suicide attempts than the general New Zealand population, particularly among younger people. Despite this, research shows Pacific people are less likely to access support services than other ethnic groups.  

The annual Pacific Mental Health and Addiction Scholarships and support programme called Futures that Work is managed by non-government organisation Le Va on behalf of the Ministry of Health. Since being launched in 2009, 293 scholarships have been awarded.

Le Va chief executive Dr Monique Faleafa said a highly skilled and culturally competent workforce is essential for reducing ethnic disparities in access, quality and outcomes in healthcare.

“Our mental health and addiction services have indicated that some of their greatest challenges are recruitment, retention, the cost of up-skilling and, specifically, that cultural competency for working with Pasifika people is one of their top four training needs. This scholarship and support programme is a direct response to meeting these needs.”

She added that the scholarships play an important role in the Government’s intent to grow a workforce that is capable of delivering on health targets and is fit for purpose.  

Students can apply for a slice of around $200,000 which goes directly to tertiary providers to pay for course fees. Alongside this financial support, the programme includes pastoral support and mentoring and career coaching to help people complete their studies and find employment at the end of their programme. 

“Past recipients have told us the secret to their success is that it’s about more than just financial support. It’s having the right support where they need it – our coaching and mentoring programme acknowledges that sometimes pastoral, cultural, spiritual, and family support are just as important as financial support,” Dr Faleafa said. 

Past recipients of the scholarships have gone on to work in a range of fields including nursing, clinical psychology, psychotherapy, social work, counselling, health business administration, addictions and health and human sciences. Many applicants are already working in the mental health and addictions sectors, undertaking study to advance their skills and careers.

The scholarships are now open with applications closing on Friday, 4 March 2016.

Visit the scholarships page on the Le Va website for more information including application forms and eligibility criteria. 


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