The PACMAT Tonga team has been on standby since January when Tonga was devastated by recent natural disasters. Now dealing with a Covid outbreak in the community, PMA have been given the green light to deploy a team to support relief efforts with a focus on offering mental health support to the community. The PACMAT Tonga team will primarily be working alongside the Women’s and Children’s Crisis Centre to provide mental health services.
Chief Executive for PMA, Mrs Debbie Sorensen, says they are looking forward to serving the people of Tonga during this stressful time.
“When our country calls us, we need to go. We’ve got an eight-person team that’s heading away next Wednesday and they are beyond excited.
It is of course a totally Tongan team. They’re excited, anxious and wanting to do a really good job. They are also thinking really hard about how they can do the most work and provide assistance while they’re there.”
Included in the team of eight is a Specialist Infection Control Nurse to ensure Covid-19 protocols are being followed.
“She’ll be responsible for making sure that every day, everyone is RAT tested before they leave their rooms, making sure they have a PCR test every week and making sure they are wearing PPE while they work”, says Mrs Sorensen.
The deployment is for five weeks and within this time they have clear objectives to achieve, says Mrs Sorensen.
“One is to provide support to families, young people and children who have been traumatized from the events since January; that includes the stress from Omicron in the community.
The second thing is they’ll be delivering a lot of training; psychosocial mental health training in the community and because they’re a Tongan team, they can translate resources in Tongan and be able to contextualize the way that work is done.”
Mrs Sorensen emphasizes the unique “superpower” that PMA has in assembling culturally specific teams to serve in the Pacific such as the current all PACMAT Tonga team.
“Being able to put in a team that are Tongan speaking; many of them were born in Tonga and went to school there so already have networks. They understand the way that we’re able to do the work but also the context of mental health support for the Tongan community.”
To check out the full interview please click here.