Mental Health Placement in Fiji
In Partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health & Local NGOs
We all know that work experience is highly valued in the psychology sector. But what if you could gain hands-on experience in the realm of mental health, whilst making a phenomenal impact at a community level? With our mental health placements you can achieve both!
Working with the Fijian Ministry of Health and our local charity partners, you will gain valuable psychology work experience with the knowledge that your hard work is leaving a legacy of sustainable mental health promotion in Fiji.
By living as a team at the heart of a traditional Fijian village, you also experience new perspectives, unique cultural immersion and gain a second home in Fiji.
- Meaningful 1-Month or 16-day program in the Fiji Islands.
- In partnership with Fijian Government, registered Youth Groups & Fijian Charities.
- Complete cultural immersion – Live with a traditional Fijian family.
- Advance UN Sustainable Development Goals & Fiji’s National Development Plan.
- Work alongside registered youth groups (18-30) and rural communities
- Advance understanding at a grassroots level – prevention is better than cure!
- Achieve personal growth, develop soft skills and challenge your expectations.
- Develop ‘soft skills’, cultural intelligence and leadership skills that employers really value.
- Support the cross-cultural exchange and development of Fiji’s future leaders.
- Project includes; food, accommodation, 24/7 in-country support, weekend adventures, domestic travel, charity donation. (Flights not included).
- Expedition costs from £1,595 / $2,795 AUD for 16-Days in Fiji. (See costs below)
- University scholarships & bursaries available – Learn More Here.
Our aim is for every student to complete their project with new experiences, understanding and transferable skills, which can profoundly improve their future. On a Think Pacific project you can;
- Experience; Gain 120 hours of hands on mental health work experience.
- Contribute; Make an impact to sustainable local community initiatives.
- Challenge; Expand your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a new culture
- Contextualise: Increase your understanding of global mental health issues
- Learn; Work and train with leading Pacific mental health NGO
- Skills; Develop ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork, communication & leadership.
Team Challenge + Cultural Immersion + Contribution = Huge Personal Growth
Learn What Makes Us So Unique…
All our focus is on Fiji.
Go where only we can take you.
Teams of up to 25 students.
Support Fijian Government aims.
Working at a community level means real conversations with real people.
Work in partnership with Fijian youth groups (aged 18-30), women’s groups and rural communities as we help facilitate the aims of leading Pacific mental health NGOs. Through your project we aim to increase awareness and understanding of mental health in the rural areas, whilst you live at the heart of a Fijian community and learn about traditional skills, culture and customs.
In collaboration with a local youth group, you will work on projects that help empower Fijian youths to be the agents of change in their community. Advocate key messages of mental health awareness and stigma, on behalf of leading NGOs.
Through active engagement and practical experience of the Kaiviti lifestyle with youths, families & women’s groups, you’ll help to improve self-esteem of Fijian youths, foster pride and build trust and confidence to help open up discussions.
Through fun and engaging collaboration with young Fijians of a similar age to yourself, we explore new perspectives, ideas and activities to promote positive mental health. In line with the Fiji National Development Plan, and organisations such as Youth Champs 4 Mental Health, the long term aim is to equip Fiji’s youth with the tools to be ambassadors for mental health awareness, understanding and support in their communities.
Each day, there will be a thematic focus and together with your team and youth group you shall support activities to promote learning, understanding and long-term action to promote aspects of positive mental health.
Promote healthy habits within the communities and provide basic advice from our government partners, including distributing messages about nutrition, diet, smoking, drugs and NCD awareness. We work alongside Fiji’s National Wellness Centre and facilitate the Towards a Health Fiji Islands Initiative to link physical health benefits to mental health promotion by distributing government information.
Implementing strategies from Pacific charities, we create enabling spaces where young people feel able to talk about problems, open up and discuss their mental well being without judgement. Encourage peer-to-peer discussions and empower youths to be role models and support each other and their younger siblings in facilitating conversations and spreading positive messages.
Facilitate team building, outdoor activities and group challenges, which promote ‘soft skill’ development. in areas of communication, decision making, self-leadership, time management, presentation skills, positive mindset, empathy or leadership, which boost self confidence and advance employability skills.
Establish and demonstrate self-care and well-being activities within rural villages. This may include organising community walks, women’s aerobics, dance, music, art, drama, swimming, nature walks, hiking, family time, journal writing, blogs or community talks. These are activities that can be replicated and innovated by Fijian Youths.
The benefits of sport and physical activity on our mental health are endless: improved mood, decreased chance of depression and anxiety, and a better and more balanced lifestyle. Any kind of physical activity can boost mental wellbeing – unleash your passion and help Fijian youths develop basic sports skills so they can run community, youth and children’s sports clubs long term.
Misconceptions and misinformation can promote fear and shame associated with mental illness. This stigma can cause young people to lack help in seeking the support they need, or lead to negative coping mechanisms when dealing with stress.
The age old saying “prevention is better than cure” is especially true when resources & training for ill-mental health are low on the ground. In Fiji today there remains just one psychiatric facility and just 3 doctors with postgraduate mental health training. Meanwhile, suicide rates in Fiji are concerning and continuing to rise.
Mental health is much more than the absence of illness, and anyone can experience challenges to their mental wellbeing. However, 42% of Fijians said they would be put off seeking any help due to embarrassment (Aghanwa 2004). If local mental health ambassadors can influence attitudes and understanding, then they can break the stigma surrounding discussing mental health.
You’ll spend each day working in partnership with the members of a Fijian ‘Youth Group’ made up of men and women from rural communities, aged between 18-30.
The days are diverse, fun and incredibly busy. Projects are led by our local Fijian Leaders, trained by partner charities and organisations to pass their skills and learning to international students and Fijian youths. However, ultimately it is up to the commitment of you and the local youths to come up with the ideas and implement project concepts.
Each morning, you’ll work on projects to address key themes from mental health stigma, to concepts of positive well being to developing life skills.
Daily sessions are led by Think Pacific staff and local NGO volunteers and leaders. Alongside members of the local youth group, you will facilitate and participate in daily sessions and workshops. This may include facilitating group activities such as brainstorming, energizers, team building, leading break outs, group challenges, buddy work, ‘conversation cafes’ or an amazing race. Learning and using tools and strategies developed by local charities, we engage with rural Fijian communities with deep respect and cultural and sensitivity.
Depending on the village setting, each day we could be working in a local community centre, a jungle clearing, on the beach or by the river, ideally a mix of all as we engage fully with our unique location and environment
Sessions finish with the completion of a set outcome and also development of a learning for Fijian youth and for you, be this understanding of a new topic in a global context or a set actionable to put into practise with a particular setting, such as design of a village action plan, a global mind map, or plan of a community activity, poster or presentation.
Crucial to the whole project is investing in Fiji’s youth to create sustainable solutions, capacity building and achieve mental health promotion long term. Your project is the first introduction, conversation and activity surrounding mental health in rural areas. What follows is 7 steps to achieve the training of local Fijian ambassadors, and implementation of sustainable local mental health support in rural villages.
Empowering Fiji’s Youth = Sustainability & Long Term Change
The long term aim is to help build communities that are knowledgeable and resilient in addressing issues surrounding mental health, providing support to community members facing mental health difficulties and establishing an enabling environment where local people are able to interact with others, contribute effectively to community decision making processes and be included in mental health activities.
Training of local youth ambassadors is delivered by leading mental health NGO’s and the Fijian Ministry of Health and funded by Think Pacific Foundation. 30% of your project fee funds the work of our Fijian charity.
We aim to be the epitome of purposeful, responsible and empowering volunteer and experiential learning programmes. Central to this is the depth of our association with local communities, government departments and organisations within Fiji, which is unique and unrivalled.
Every programme is planned in collaboration and at the request of rural communities and directed and monitored by The Fijian Ministries to ensure our volunteering has real purpose and long term sustainability. We are respected for working within the framework of the government, adding benefit to long term strategies and the advancement of education, access and opportunity for youths and children living in rural areas.
We work alongside many by leading international universities and hold many partnerships to support the formal delivery of global mobility. Through our structured projects, we guide hundreds of students annually who develop leadership, transferable skills and expand their cultural understanding, whilst contributing to the aims and initiatives of our Fijian partners.
The 20-Year Development Plan provides the forward-looking vision for “Transforming Fiji” towards an even more progressive, vibrant and inclusive society. It outlines a framework that encompasses strategic policy manoeuvres, new approaches to development and the aspirations of all Fijians.
Leadership Development of International Volunteers
Our aim is for every student to complete their project with a set of experiences, personal attributes and transferable skills, which can positively impact their future education, career ambitions and transition to life beyond study.
TP volunteers will be expected to undertake leadership activities in a challenging and changing environment, which means they can achieve the following learning outcomes;
Able to communicate Think Pacific outcomes, goals and vision
Displays global Intelligence & empathy with open mind
Ability to lead activities & others without authority
Build relationships with Fijian community members
Adapt to Fijian culture with passion & empathy
Approaches new settings with emotional intelligence
Can language personal and team reflections
Can speak effectively to a group
Can communicate with individuals from different backgrounds
Has an understanding of own leadership style/s
Is open to feedback and open to change
Curious attitude and continual learner
Ability to persist during within challenging environment
Motivates others through consistency
Persistently displays determination to achieve end goal
Decisive in new environments
Drives innovations and ideas
Takes initiative to implement ideas
Positive member of Think Pacific volunteer team
Can collaborate with Fijian Youth & Community members
This project is great for students who want to gain practical mental health work experience, expand their knowledge in a global context and develop their leadership and employability skills. You don’t need any prior experience and this project is open to all students. You will, however, need a passion for making an impact to mental health at grass roots level, a desire to step out of your comfort zone and work collaboratively to implement our project aims.
By the end of our expedition, students and Fijian youths leave, not just a new family and friends but with new found skills, perspectives and confidence. In partnership with The Fijian Ministry of Health and the leading mental health NGO’s in Fiji, you will help to deliver pioneering mental health aims & initiatives within rural Fijian villages, whilst advancing the experience, knowledge and skills of yourself and young Fijian adults.
“Absolutely amazing experience and definitely the best 10 weeks of my life in Malake. Think Pacific are doing amazing things all over Fiji, they are friendly, organized, full of information and they think of absolutely everything, to ensure that you are prepared and love every minute of your time in Fiji. Their team leaders are unparalleled and made the experience what it was”
Without a doubt my 5 weeks in Fiji were the most memorable, rewarding and fun of my life! I cannot recommend Think Pacific highly enough for their outstanding organisation of the expedition. I feel truly honoured to have lived amongst the incredible families in Fiji and will forever treasure the lessons learnt from their beautiful culture and traditions.
Living within Fijian villages during the project is a challenging but incredible experience. Unique to Think Pacific projects is that each team visits a different community to complete the objectives and you will be welcomed into these villages like family.
We ask you to immerse yourself into every aspect of Fijian life and see the country through the eyes of the local people. Being invited into rural communities by village Chief’s is our biggest privilege and something we are incredibly proud of. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into Fijian customs, culture, values and traditions and you will gain so much in return.
Understand the origins and modern day cultural importance of traditional practices such as the Yaqona ceremony.
Learn the history, nuance and symbolism of local art and storytelling such as the Make dance.
Learn from traditional knowledge systems and age old skills, still practiced today as they were a century ago.
Understand the importance of traditional land and how communities foster sustainable practices.
Authentic experiences, unique memories and genuine understanding through living with families and immersing into daily life.
Learn how chiefly structures, clans and hierarchy fosters traditional identities, roles and responsibilities within a community.
Hear our Fijian staff talk about life in a Fijian village.
Fijian life is incredibly communal and friendly. The entire village live and work together. Fijians farm together, maintaining crop plantations which feed the whole village. They fish together, later dividing their catch, and families will all come together in the evenings to play cards, strum the guitar, chat and dance the night away as they drink Kava.
The villages are all relatively small and close knit communities with usually around 20-50 or so families. During the project, you will stay with your own Fijian family in the village. The Fijian families will treat you as one of their own. If you are lucky, you may also live with a family who has children and your little Fijian brothers and sisters are always so intrigued and incredibly excited by the arrival of visitors from afar! Conditions are basic; expect cold bucket showers, pit toilets and limited electricity.
You will eat with your Fijian family, who provide all of your meals in the community. Think Pacific fund any costs of this food so our teams pose absolutely no burden on the local resources. You may often find many different people at your home for lunch and dinner – in Fiji it is custom to invite anyone who is passing into the home to eat. Food is very carbohydrate heavy, so expect lots of root crops such as dalo and cassava, and also lots of fish, as this makes up the bulk of a typical Fijian diet.
Trust us when we say that there really is nothing like a Fijian village! However, the comparatively basic standard of living, the communal nature, the strong religious beliefs and the traditional customs and values in the village, may take time to adjust to. It is completely normal to feel a little out of your depth in the first few days. With the support of your Fijian family, your team and our leaders, we find it doesn’t take long to adjust to life in the South Pacific
The majority of Fijians speak both Fijian and English. There may be some language barriers with pronunciation, but as long as you talk slowly and clearly in English there is little difficulty in understanding each other. Young children and some elderly members of the community may not speak any English at all and it’s great to learn a few Fijian words as early as you can.
‘Fiji time’ is something you will soon be accustomed to – and it has the ability to change everything. South Pacific Islanders take everything at their own unique, mystifying and incredibly slow pace. This can sometimes seem frustrating, but don’t let it get to you; its better to smile and take any changes in your stride and welcome this beautiful, relaxed and refreshing way of life!
Follow the village headman (Turaga ni Koro), as he gives you a guided tour of Buliya, Kadavu.
Hear from one of our Fijian Project Manager’s, on Fijian culture…
Hear from villagers talking about their experience with Think Pacific volunteers.
Forget about the day job or the stress of exams by arriving in the exotic South Seas. You will land at Nadi Airport and be met by your Expedition Leaders for the first time.
Every expedition starts with an all inclusive 6 day briefing at a beautiful tropical beach resort. This is time for you to get to know your team mates, acclimatise, prepare for life in the village and meet our Fijian partners.
Leaving your briefing paradise, we travel to your remote traditional Fijian community. Depending on your village, this could be a truck to deep jungle or ferry to an outer island.
Arriving into your Fijian village is an exciting and nervous moment! Every door is open in a Fijian community and the generosity and genuine excitement of the local people is profound. By the end of the project our volunteers feel as though they are leaving a second home in the South Pacific.
Some of your greatest experiences will be the simple activities of daily Fijian life; learning how to weave palm leaves, cooking Fijian food in underground earth ovens, drinking ceremonial Kava with the chief, husking coconuts or fishing ‘Fiji-style’.
We focus on a range of diverse and engaging mental health collaborations and workshops in the morning, followed by ‘kaiviti’ cultural activities. The days are rewarding and incredibly busy.
Live at the heart of some of the most rural communities and immerse yourself into local village life, where everyday is an adventure. If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure then Fiji is waiting to be explored…
Leaving your Fijian village is an emotional experience; such are the close bonds that are formed between our volunteers and the local community. Farewell dinners, tearful goodbyes and the pride in your achievements will sum up your final days.
We finish the project by enjoying time relaxing at a beautiful beach resort for 4 days. We ask for your all-important feedback as we reflect on the project and celebrate your achievements with a farewell dinner.
We pride ourselves on the delivery of a safe, structured and personally supported experience.
Your expedition fee includes your food, accommodation, in-country travel, resort briefings, R&R, weekend activities, emergency support and your expedition leader team living alongside you 24/7. Expeditions also fund the work of the Think Pacific Foundation (Fijian charity FJ 989) enabling us to support thousands of youths annually to ensure sustainability of the aims.
£195 GBP / $345 AUD / $230 USD
This secures your place in the team and gives you access to our Global Skills Programme, an online course to give you the foundations of success before departing for Fiji. It also provides personal support from your project co-ordinator, full access to our pre-departure resources, live online preparation webinars and your expedition t-shirt. Your registration fee is additional to your project fees.
Students can apply for scholarships and bursaries to join our projects in Fiji.
To find out if there’s funding available at your university or in your area, download our funding guide. Click here to learn more.
16 Day = £1400 GBP / $2450 AUD / $1700 USD
1 Month = £1950 GBP / $3350 AUD / $2300 USD
Our philosophy is to provide a high quality and exceptionally well structured volunteer project. Our expeditions are packed full of adventure and cultural insight, whilst having safety and support at their core. Click ‘What’s Included’ below to learn more.
Your travel costs are not included in the project fees. We support you every step of the way to book return flights, personal travel insurance and we process your visa when in Fiji. Please see the approximate costs below within ‘ What’s Not Included’.
Think Pacific works in partnership with many universities across the world to support student mobility and employability. There are scholarships and grants available for students from individual university departments and/or governments in several countries.
Students can apply for scholarships and bursaries to join our projects in Fiji. To find out if there’s funding available at your university or in your areas, click here to download our funding guide. (Guide coming soon)
If you have any questions about funding prior to our funding guide being launched, please email email@example.com.
Our philosophy is to provide a high quality and exceptionally well structured volunteer project. Our expeditions are packed full of adventure and cultural insight, whilst having safety and support at their core. We also ensure that through our charity, the communities you support receive long-term financial and physical assistance year-round. Think Pacific is not the cheapest volunteer organisation around, but this is for all the right reasons.
All our expeditions include:
- Airport welcome by Think Pacific Expedition leaders (or resort meet and greet if you arrive early).
- All in-country expedition travel
- All project accommodation
- All-inclusive briefing and orientation from a beautiful beach resort.
- All meals during your briefing, all meals for 3 and a half weeks staying with your Fijian village family and breakfast and evening meals during your final days of R&R at glorious beach resorts.
- Guided weekend activities which means you can explore your remote location through treks and attend community events.
- Organised evening Fijian activities including kava ceremonies, lovo feasts, mat weaving,
- Think Pacific Leaders and Fijian Matanivanua guides living with you 24/7.
- In-country Director, Fiji based Project Managers and UK team providing planning, risk assessment and 24-hour back up support.
- Comprehensive pre-departure information & personal volunteer project planning.
- Fiji expedition de-brief at a beach resort or castaway islands.
- Your project donation towards the youth development goals in Fiji (which is used to purchase educational and sports equipment, fund scholarships and training for local people and build village facilities and school classrooms).
- International flights – £800 – £1100
- Personal travel insurance £60-£100
- Visa -£60
Apply for university funding to cover flights, insurance and visa.
- Access to the Volunteer Portal.
This portal provides the step-by-step process to prepare for Fiji, including fundraising information, flight information, kit list, visa, cultural preparation. Student can watch videos with our team in Fiji and download document.
- Contact our team.
You can contact our team anytime between office hours, either give us a call on 0113 335 9919 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Online community/network.
You can communicate with fellow volunteers, alumni and our team through our online community, hosted on the Might Network app. Within 3 months of you departing to Fiji, you shall be entered into a private group with your volunteer team.
- Live Pre Departure webinars
Our team host live sessions in the months leading up to your expedition. These are a great way for you to ask questions and delve deeper into planning for your project. They also add to the excitement!
- Global Skills Programme
We have created an online course to give you the set you up for success before departing for Fiji! Complete short-courses in: Fijian Culture, Sustainable Development & Global Leadership.
- Briefing (6 nights) = Fijian resort.
- Project aims (18 nights) = Traditional Fijian village.
- Rest & reflection = (3 nights) = Fijian resort.