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Maori mental health initiatives worth celebrating

12 October 2004

Maori mental health initiatives worth celebrating

Maori Health Providers playing an important role in fighting mental illness


Maori Health providers around the country are a vital link in providing the government with information and ideas on how to improve mental health responses says, Under-Secretary for Health, Mita Ririnui.

"Maori mental health is an issue that this government is taking seriously. Tangata whaiora, whanau, services and communities should be congratulated for their achievements in working towards better mental health outcomes for Maori, said Mita Ririnui.

Statistics indicate that Maori continue to enter acute mental health services at a disproportionately higher rate than non-Maori, but these do not reflect the milestones within the sector.

The number of Maori mental health service providers has increased tenfold in the past 10 years which has resulted in a huge improvement in the way mental health issues have been identified and reported.

These steps forward are worth remembering during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from October 10 to 16. The week aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and this year focuses on the benefits of physical activity in maintaining mental health and wellbeing.

Throughout the country activities are planned to celebrate this year's international theme Move Your Mood. The week's celebrations begin on Sunday with a Hikoi In the Park in the Auckland Domain, to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

"More and better services are being developed which are appropriate to the needs of Maori," said Mita Ririnui. "There is an acknowledgement that a person's cultural identity is an important part of their wellbeing, that people are more than their illness."

To this end, trials are underway on one of the first indigenous outcome measurement tools ever developed. Hua Oranga involves tangata whaiora, whanau and clinicians in working with the whole person to meet their spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and psychiatric needs.

The provision of mental health services that more appropriately reflect the cultural needs of Maori has been the major achievement for Maori mental health.


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