Mental Health Placements in Fiji
Pioneering Work Experience + Real Global Impact = Extraordinary Psychology Placements
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 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.
- Unrivaled work experience pioneering mental health in rural Fiji.
- Largest student volunteer initiative in the South Pacific Islands.
- Support Fiji National Development Plan & Fiji Mental Health Decree (2010)
- In Partnership with Fijian Ministry of Health and Influential Mental Health NGO’s.
- Complete cultural immersion. Homestay – Live with a Traditional Fijian family.
- Work alongside the women’s group, youth group and children of your village.
- Advance understanding at a grassroots level – prevention is better than cure!
- Achieve personal growth, develop soft skills and challenge your expectations.
- Project Fees include; food, accommodation, 24/7 in-country support, domestic travel, charity donation (30%).
- Expedition Costs from; £1,345 / $2,895 AUD / $1,950 USD / $2,550 CAD / €1,750 EUR (see Dates & Costs below).
Working at a community level means real conversations with real people.
There is significant stigma around mental health in Fiji. Misconceptions and misinformation can promote fear and shame associated with mental illness, often attributed to cultural and superstitious beliefs. 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, with one individual completing suicide every 36 hours (YC4MH).
Through your project we aim to increase awareness and understanding of mental health in the rural Fijian communities we live in. 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 However, 42% of Fijians said they would be put off seeking any help due to embarrassment (Aghanwa 2004). If we can influence attitudes and understanding, then we can break the stigma surrounding discussing mental health!
Our aim is for every student to complete their project with a set of experiences, understanding and transferable skills, which can profoundly improve their future.
- 120 + hours of hands-on mental health voluntary work experience
- Training & Workshops with the leading Mental Health Experts in Fiji
- Expand your understanding of global mental health and cultural perceptions
- Contribute to sustainable impact projects
- Help our Fijian partners transform the mental health landscape in Fiji
- Certificate of learning & completion of the Think Pacific Award
- Experience culture & customs of a traditional Fijian village.
- Increase your Team Work, leadership skills and employability
- Studying psychology (or a relevant course)?
- Looking for practical mental health work experience?
- Keen to expand your global understanding and cultural experience?
- Seeking to make a real impact at a grassroots level?
If so then this project could be perfect for you! Like all Think Pacific projects, our focus is and will always be Fijian communities and local partnerships. Working hand in hand with the Fijian Ministry of Health and the leading mental health NGO’s in Fiji, our mental health volunteers deliver pioneering mental health aims & initiatives within rural Fijian villages, whilst advancing their experience, knowledge and skills.
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. Each day, there will be a thematic focus and together with your team and youth group you shall prepare activities to promote learning, understanding and long-term action to promote aspects of positive mental health. In line with the Fiji National Development Plan, and 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. We believe in thinking big, starting small and acting now and working together to empower talented Fijian youth.
Support children living in the rural areas to improve their confidence, self-esteem and learn positive messages by providing invaluable opportunities to try new activities, develop their education and increase their social development. Do this by introducing them to new sports, games and creative activities. The aim is to develop the self-belief of each child and assist them to communicate and express their feelings. Alongside the Fijian youth group you will create fun, interactive and engaging activities to expose Fijian children to a new ways of enjoying education and extra-curricular activities. Crucially, you’ll help young Fijian adults to continue the activities and be vital role models for children.
The TP project was the most memorable trip of my life. The village experience is something that you cannot put into words. I found the hospitality and warmth of the Fijian community just breathtaking, and they truly accept you in as family. Think Pacific’s work with the village’s and the locals creates bonds that is passed down to the volunteers. We as volunteers are brought into the community and instantly feel at home, the communication before project between the team and the village causes the diffusion of tension and allows us to feel a part of our Fijian families instantly. Although looking into project I had the fear of moving into a home with strangers, this was never a concern once we entered the village. The kindness and love that your families give you, alongside the support of your leaders made me feel so safe in our little village. The community that you are apart of, with all the volunteers is one that sticks with you for life. The follow up contact that we have with Think Pacific and the support network provided allows us volunteers to stay connected with our village and creates a home away from home in Fiji. Choosing this Think Pacific trip was the best decision I made, and there is no doubt when I say that I will be returning to Fiji soon.
The children both at school and at home are the happiest, friendliest children that never failed to make me smile! It was truly a life changing experience where I made friends for life.
The family that I lived with were so lovely and we are still in contact now I’m back in England. I still refer to them as mum and dad and talk about my little Fijian brother constantly. The children in the village were so happy to see you, play with you and hug you; you were never left alone but I loved this. It was a blessing to be made so welcome by the whole community.
Leave the course work and exams behind by arriving in the exotic South Pacific Islands. You will land at Fiji’s Nadi Airport and be met by your Team Leaders for the first time.
Every placement starts with an all inclusive 3 day briefing at a beautiful tropical resort. This is time to learn, set your goals and attend workshops hosted by local experts in mental health promotion.
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 you’ll feel as though you are leaving a second home in the South Pacific.
Some of your greatest experiences will be the simple activities of daily Fijian life. Learn the intricacies of Fijian communal, subsistence life and the importance of the chiefly structures and age old customs.
We work together as a team, volunteering with local youth groups, women’s groups and children to promote messages of positive mental health. This involves learning from local people, supporting advocacy sessions and devising health, education and extra-curricular activities for all ages.
We can be delivering sessions in the jungle, by the beach, in remote health posts or within the chiefly villages. We live in areas where tourists are unable to visit and experience a side to the South Pacific few are privileged to see. If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure, 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. The farewell dinners, emotional goodbyes and the pride in your achievements will sum up your final days.
We finish the project by enjoying our final couple of days relaxing at a beautiful beach resort. We ask for your all-important feedback as we reflect on the project and celebrate your achievements with a farewell dinner.
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.
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 believe in learning before contributing, which is why our project starts with you immersing into and celebrating traditional Fijian culture. 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.
Create awareness around mental health, discuss stigmas and misinformation and open up the first conversations about positive mental health through workshops and activities. By understanding the risk factors, warning signs and typical triggers which may come together to create a situation which could lead to suicide, communities can be alert, aware and supportive at the earliest possible stage.
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.
Provide safe and enabling spaces where children and youths feel able to talk about problems, open up and discuss their mental well being and positive mental health without judgement. Encourage peer-to-peer support and empower youths to be role models and support each other and their younger siblings in facilitating conversations and spreading positive messages.
Establish and demonstrate activities for community groups, women’s groups and young adults to promote well-being within their 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. Activities that can be replicated and innovated by Fijian Youths.
Every Saturday, we deliver exciting and engaging youth clubs that give the children the access and opportunity to develop their skills. express themselves and improve their confidence. Our ‘House Cup Programme’ has been hugely popular for over a decade in Fiji and achieved remarkable self confidence of children. Activities include sports, arts, dance & drama and children feel connected, praised and empowered through participation.
Outdoor education style days are a fun, dynamic and enriching focus once a week. Led by our leaders, You , your volunteer team and the youth group will trek to a scenic spot to carry out team challenges, games and tasks aimed at developing the ‘soft skills’ of Fijian youths. Activities improve self-esteem, communication, team work, resilience, emotional intelligence and help to equip youths with the skills to be positive role models and future leaders of their communities.
Equipping youths with the flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change is vital for mental well being, especially for those looking to enter the job market or who have ambition to move to the urban areas. Promote basic self management through conversations and workshops around such topics as; time management, money management, communication, public speaking and interview practice. Also promote CV writing, careers & job opportunities and local training courses by distributing information from our government partners.
Empower local youths and community members to foster sports into their daily lives. 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 – from walking and yoga to dance – unleash your passion and help Fijian youths develop basic sports skills so they can run community, youth and children’s sports clubs long term.
Each morning, you, your team and your local youth group will work together on a range of activities to improve mental health promotion. Within this, we explore perceptions of mental health stigma, discuss support structures and strategies to involve all community members.
Plan, prepare and deliver engaging, fun and educational after-school clubs in your host village. The aim is for the children to have 2 hours of exciting extra-curricular activities each day to boost their self esteem and introduce positive messages.
Enjoy a traditional dinner with your Fijian family. Then take part in Fijian cultural activities hosted by your village, such as basket weaving, mat weaving & kava ceremonies. Evening activities are also a great chance to open discussions with community members about positive mental health.
We make the most of Fiji’s beautiful scenery and head outdoors for the day, you will work with the Fijian youth group to complete different fun challenges, leadership activities & tasks together to build confidence.
We plan huge kids’ clubs for the children on Saturdays, this is your chance to coach additional sports, plan a dance, arts or photography competition or throw a huge fun day for the children with face paints and fun games.
To Fijian people, the Sabbath day is an integral part of local life. It is their day of rest, and time of worship. Attending Fijian church is a wonderful experience; not least for showcasing local people’s amazing singing voices! It’s a great day to kick back and rest and look forward to the hard work of the week to come.
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.
This secures your place in the team. 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 fee.
Many of our volunteers fundraise this entire amount, it’s up to you whether you fundraise or not but your project fee is due 60 days before the project begins. Over 1/3 of your fee pays for the resources and associated costs for the project that you complete. In addition, our charity supports long term support to people in Fiji, providing training and job opportunities for young Fijian adults.
Since 2009, volunteers have been joining our expeditions from around the globe, supported by our offices in Fiji and the UK. Here’s our prices in some commonly requested currencies;
|Currency||£ GBP||$ AUD||$ USD||$ CAD||€ EUR|
|1-Month Project Fee||1300||2800||1900||2500||1700|
|16-Day Project Fee||1150||2500||1700||2200||1500|
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 whilst 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 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 (Approx £800-£1000)
- Spending money (budget £200 for 1 Month)
- Visa (£60)