Tokspot project: Addressing Mental Health Concerns Among Youths in Honiara

Tokspot project: Addressing Mental Health Concerns Among Youths in Honiara

Youth Workers and Counsellors at Youth Division of the Honiara City Council (HCC) have been leading the advocacy activities as an effort to address the rising mental health concerns
among the youth population in Honiara.

In recent years, Honiara city has witnessed a surge in mental health challenges among its young residents. These challenges have been further intensified by the complex impacts of
youth unemployment and various socio-economic factors.

In response to this pressing issue, the New Zealand Government, through Childfund NZ, in collaboration with the HCC’s Youth Sports and Women division, engaged 60 youth workers and 8 youth counsellors to raise awareness and provide essential resources for mental health well-being.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, these advocates have been actively collaborating with local organizations, mental health professionals, and volunteers to work with young people and communities within Honiara under the Tokspot project.

In addition to providing direct support to young people, these youth workers and youth counsellors are also advocating for social and emotional health services and support to be understood and implemented at all levels, including the government, organizations working with youth in communities, churches, schools, tertiary institutions, and caregivers.

Sharon Totorea, a graduate in Diploma in Counseling from the University of the South Pacific, stressed the importance of advocating for youth mental health in Honiara—an issue that has been overlooked for too long. Despite facing daily challenges, young people often refrain from discussing or seeking help for their mental health concerns from social services,
church, friends, or family until their situation worsens.

“It pains me to witness young individuals grappling with social and emotional well-being silently. Through my work at Tokspot Youth Counseling Service within the Honiara City Council – Youth Division, I’ve encountered youths in need of someone to confide in, someone to assist and support them.”

She highlighted various factors that deter young people from seeking counseling, such as feelings of embarrassment or insecurity, and the prevailing stigma associated with it.

The Deputy High Commissioner for New Zealand in Solomon Islands, Her Excellency Rebecca Williams, in her remarks to young people in their recent Tokspot Exhibition said
mental health is an important area of our wellbeing.

She highlighted how mental well-being plays a crucial role in helping individuals cope with life’s stresses, understand and manage emotions, make responsible decisions, build and
maintain relationships, and empathize with others.

“It is important that we remove any stigma surrounding discussions about mental health. We all have a role to play in this. Reassure your friends that support is available, including the
support provided by Tokspot project,” HE Rebecca said.

As part of the Tokspot project’s offerings, free counselling services are available for youth aged 15 to 34. These services are facilitated through the Honiara City Council Youth Division, located near the newly established Multipurpose Outdoor Sports and Recreational Area.

It’s important to note that these services are inclusive and accessible to individuals of all abilities, races, and genders. Additionally, there is provision for interpreters to assist those who are deaf, ensuring that the support extends to a diverse range of individuals within the community.

The Tokspot project, a five-year initiative, is making significant steps towards addressing the mental health concerns of Honiara’s youth and cultivating a more supportive environment for their holistic well-being. –ENDS//

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