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Nutrition course a success for Pacific Mental Health Service

A Counties Manukau mental health worker has been busy sharing our heart healthy teachings. She joins us today to talk about her journey.

My name is Rowena Singh. I am originally from the beautiful island of Viti Levu, Fiji. I am a Peer Support Specialist at Faleola Pacific Mental Health Services under Counties Manukau Health.

As a Mental Health Service, we have been able to identify the need to support the people we serve (Tagata Ola) and their families, through providing education on how to develop a healthier lifestyle through nutrition and healthy eating.

Significant numbers of Faleola Tagata Ola were identified as being overweight and obese – a growing trend among our Pacific people. We were concerned that our Tagata Ola may develop conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart problems due to lack of physical exercises and not eating healthily.

As a result of this and the love we have for our Pacific people, we embarked on a journey to find the resources required to run an in-house workshop on healthy eating and living healthily. Our prayer was answered when the Pacific Heartbeat Team came to our rescue.

After gaining skills and knowledge from the Certificate of Pacific Nutrition (CPN) course last year, I was able to share the message of healthy living by facilitating a six-week nutrition programme for our people.

Through the integration of the diverse tapestries of skills of the Pacific Team and my Faleola colleagues, we have been able to support our people to make changes in their lives. Joining me in running the workshops were my mentor Jemma O’Donnell, Pacific Heartbeat sponsors Regina Wypych and Sam Lafolua, Faleola occupational therapist Tangi Poko, social worker Toi Lemalu (also a CPN graduate) and peer support specialist Sesi Amato.

Twelve Tagata Ola attended each workshop, and their feedback was positive. Our attendance, evaluations and questionnaires showed that the programme was very successful. Tagata Ola enjoyed the sessions, and most importantly they were able to retain the information and apply the knowledge to their lifestyles. Some feedback included:

“I’ve really enjoyed this course. The tutors were great.”

“Faafetai (Thank You) Faleola. Can we do this programme again next year?”

As a Peer Support Specialist, making changes to a single life is a blessing for me and it is something that I will never forget in my life.