"Something needs to change," thought 29-year-old Taua Faavale in early 2020, a year after losing a younger family member to suicide.
Faavale noticed how friends and family were still badly affected by that loss, and she felt there wasn't enough focus on helping Levin youth with their mental health journeys.
She knew there was support available in the community, but believed young people often didn't feel comfortable accessing it.
"Sometimes people need a visual representation [they can relate to] ... to see people their age and ethnicity [in support roles]," Faavale said.
Family friend, 21-year-old Molly Fuauli, had her own mental wellbeing concerns during her late teens, and found herself particularly affected by the Covid lockdown last year.
"I had to step away from my support network, my family, to try and sort out what was happening inside my head," Fuauli said.
She believes the mental health issues that arose during lockdown haven't been talked about enough, and more research needs to be done around the impact of that period, especially on young people.
After lockdown Fuauli approached Faavale with a concept she'd been working on to create a group that would provide more support for Pasifika youth around their mental health journeys.
Initially called Sister:Sister (in reference to Fuauli's relationship with her four sisters), one of the ideas was to help young people from various schools connect with each other; another was to offer wellbeing retreats.
Over the next few months more young women came forward to be part of the group – all of Pasifika heritage, all of whom had been affected by either their own mental health issues or those of people close to them.
"We're a youth-led group who are trying to make a difference," said Faavale of the newly named Youth in Action.
Although the initial concept was to provide more support for the Pasifika community, the group quickly realised they needed to reach out to youth of all ethnicities – whoever needed to connect with someone of a similar age to themselves.
Dajana, at 19, is one of the youngest members of Youth in Action, and lost her cousin to suicide a week after Faavale's relative died.
"I feel like a lot of my friends and family who struggled with their mental health have been failed by the health system and I wanted to be more involved with finding a solution," she said.
Dajana gained a Mental Health Nursing Certificate at Whitireia Polytechnic and admits she has had her own battles, which she found difficult to get help for because she didn't want to stand out or be different from her peers.
She would like to see Youth in Action go into the local high schools to help the senior students set up similar groups where there is no judgment, just somebody to listen.
Mine is 21, of Tuvaluan descent, and has had her own issues with mental health.
She believes that for many Pasifika youth there is no "space to feel safe ... [mental health] is a tapu thing ... it's an islander mindset."
Mine said any health support that focuses on youth from the Pacific Islands cultures needs to be aware that the older generation are close-minded about mental illness and suicide so they need to be educated as well.
She also strongly agrees with the idea social media has a huge impact on young people's mental health and believes parents need to be more conscious about monitoring access to and use of social media by their children.
Mine loves the fact Youth in Action is a diverse group with members from various cultures, and would like to see more nationalities joining them.
"Young people often feel more comfortable talking to others of the same culture, who speak the same language, especially with issues like mental health," she said.
Sia, 24, was a close friend of Faavale's relative and had no idea that she was struggling, "she kept her battles inside ... none of our friends noticed."
Sia didn't feel high school really made it clear what support was available, and believes there is a need to change the community mindset, to normalise talk around depression and anxiety.
Sela, 23, is a trainee teacher, of mixed Pasifika and Palagi descent, and is the mainstay of her extended family.
She has family members who struggle with mental health issues, and who find it difficult to seek help, which means a lot of responsibility for their welfare falls on Sela.
This situation could become a crisis for Sela with little to no support offered by health services for her personally.
She knew little about mental wellbeing growing up ... "it's the islander way ..." and it wasn't until her teenage years, through high school, that she found out "mental health was a thing".
Sela also believes it's really important to reach out to the older Pasifika generations and educate them that mental health is something that needs to be talked about.
Fuauli agrees, "We need to get our parents' generation on board and come up with family-orientated solutions."
Youth in Action has already decided on its first awareness-raising event, and will be organising a community fun run on the first Saturday of the October school holidays.
The group wants to produce posters, flyers and T-shirts to promote the event, and plans to provide entertainment and food options on the day.
It is seeking funding from local businesses and organisations to help with the event, and would love to have participation from schools, clubs and service groups as well as others in the community.
"Nothing would make me happier than seeing everyone stand in unity for such an amazing cause," said Faavale.
The group also welcomes new members who want to be part of supporting young people with their mental health journeys.
Faavale said, "We're starting to make connections with people who have their own businesses and knowledge in this field because honestly, experience is what we need!"
Labour MP for Ōtaki, Terisa Ngobi, knows most of the young women involved in this group and said many of their families already make huge contributions to the community.
"It's wonderful to see our young Pasifika people wanting to take [youth mental health] support further," Ngobi said.
She agrees some kaumatua may struggle to grasp the depth of the younger generation's struggles with mental health; however, "if conversations around [these issues] are not in their native tongue it can be a little harder to get the messages across," said Ngobi.
If you would like to know more about how you can help Youth in Action achieve its goals, contact Taua and Molly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you, or someone you know, are in need of mental wellness support, contact the following organisations for help:
•Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
•Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
•Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
•Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email email@example.com or online chat.