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Seeking Solutions to Being Restricted

If mental health professionals and mental health services continue to contribute to an oppressive approach to Māori when it comes to mental illness and mental health services, there will be an increasing disadvantage to the mental health of Māori.

Dr Maria Baker’s doctoral research shows that mainstream mental health services incur an oppressive approach for Māori. The power of control is intertwined within the mental health system, enforced under the current mental health legislation.

When Māori seek help from mental health services, there is an insidious cycle of control that involves police apprehension, the use of the Mental Health Act and being locked up in mental health services.

Dr Baker’s theory of Seeking Solutions to Being Restricted acknowledges the main issue Māori experience with mental illness and mental health services is being restricted. She says there is a continual cycle of control enforced upon Māori, which in turn fosters a culture of fear, and an extreme lack of control that profiles mental health treatment as punishment.

A consequence of being restricted, is Māori are physically compromised for mental stability with psychiatric medication as the dominant treatment approach. The impact of psychiatric medication is best explained as being physically compromised by physical side effects, medical adverse reactions and sudden deaths which raise serious concerns about how Māori are prescribed medications and treated by mental health services.



Further consequences of Māori in mental health services, is the compromise of their spirituality. There is a constant need for Māori to address their wairua as a way to seek solutions to achieve their mental wellbeing and balance.

The mental health system is failing Māori because its environment and treatment approach is ill equipped to be conducive to a healing approach that involves wairua, whānau involvement and the transfer of control over to Māori regarding their treatment options. Māori Health professionals and Kaupapa Māori mental health services are showing the need to work outside of the western medical and controlled treatment framework.

Māori will deliberately seek solutions from the Māori world to achieve balance. This is aided by whānau who facilitate access to wairua support and Māori practitioners who work in and with wairua to address wairua needs.

How Māori are coping with mental illness and mental health services is by seeking solutions to rise above the impacts of being restricted. They are holding out hope for change to occur, they are taking control when out of hospital, and seeking Māori resources with processes to help heal and grow.

With the imbalance of the mental health system overpowering Māori by using the Mental Health Act and medication, for hope and change to be instilled in mental health services for Māori and any process to meet their mental health needs, mental health services will need to shift its focus, to centre upon the needs and preferences of Māori.


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