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Māori Mental Health Wananga

Media Release
23 July 2008

Māori Mental Health Wananga

The Mental Health Commission will host a meeting of Māori mental health leaders in Wellington tomorrow to plan a national summit.

Commissioner Ray Watson says the last Māori mental health summit was held a decade ago.

“We want to celebrate the achievements of the past 10 years and plan for the challenges still ahead. The wananga will bring together people who can continue to make a real difference in Māori mental health and addiction to chart a way forward.”

Representatives from district health boards, universities, the Ministry of Health, Māori health organisations, and the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand are among those attending the one-day wananga at Wellington’s Turnbull House.

They will attend the launch of Te Puawaiwhero, the Government’s second Māori mental health and addiction national strategic framework 2008 – 2015, before spending the afternoon planning a national Māori mental health and addictions summit, to be held in 2009 or 2010.

The wananga will be facilitated by Materoa Mar, a former clinical leader for Capital and Coast District Health Board, current chair of the Mental Health Foundation, director of Te Rau Matatini and the organisation Yesterday Today Tomorrow.

“I’m hoping we’ll come out of the wananga with a united way of thinking about the issues and a clear idea of what needs to be done to create a blueprint for the next 10 years,” she says.

Research on Māori mental health, as summarised in the Māori Mental Health Needs Profile: A Review of the Evidence (2008) published by Te Rau Matatini with funding from the Ministry of Health, has found that:

 Māori are 1.7 times more likely to develop a mental disorder in their lifetimes than non-Māori /non-Pacific peoples.
 About half of Māori (50.7%) say they have experienced at least one mental disorder in their lives to date.
 Mental disorders are more common among Māori women and youth, along with those with the least education, the lowest household incomes, and high levels of unemployment.
 Nearly 1 in 3 Māori will develop a substance use disorder over their lifetimes (up until age 75).
 Māori have little contact with mental health services – most Māori with either serious or moderate disorders have no contact at all with any service for their mental health needs.

“The challenge is to turn these figures around,” says Ray Watson.

He says the Commission is contributing to Māori mental health advancement through its work on whanau ora and its legislative requirements to advocate for people experiencing mental illness and their families, encourage people to work collaboratively, and support the development of integrated care that meeets the needs of Māori.


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