Strengthening response on mental health

Dr Nick Kowalenko, Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and head of infancy and early childhood studies at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry at the PMA Conference in Vanuatu

Dr Nick Kowalenko, Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and head of infancy and early childhood studies at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry at the PMA Conference in Vanuatu

This is the first time the annual Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) has partnered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty with over 100 psychiatrists participating from Australia and New Zealand including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The mental health experts from Australia and New Zealand have led workshops for Vanuatu health professionals to discuss mental health care and psychiatric practise for children and adolescents.

Dr Nick Kowalenko, Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and head of infancy and early childhood studies at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry says the PMA invited them because it recognises the importance of mental health in the Pacific region.

“It has been a very successful conference. We have medical specialists from Australia and New Zealand that were able to collaborate with local practitioners to learn how to treat and manage Pacific people with mental illness.”

Dr Kowalenko said the conference has strengthened their relationships with PMA and Pacific mental health colleagues, and is an excellent step in solidifying those relationships, and share mental health skills and experiences.

“We had fantastic presenters covering many areas of young people’s mental health and wellbeing after trauma, parenting in different cultures, depression in adolescents, school interventions, human rights and the impacts for children who have parents with a mental illness, drug and family violence.”

“Our members were also very pleased to be participating in workshops jointly hosted with PMA to enhance service delivery of psychiatric care in Vanuatu.”

This is the second time for the PMA conference to be held in a Melanesian country. Previous conferences have been held in Auckland, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa.