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Mental Illness Issues Critical for Mäori Health

Mental illness and mental health problems are the most pressing health needs affecting Mäori today, says Clinical Coordinator Paul Hirini from Te Rau Matatini, a Maori Mental Health Workforce Development organisation.

“Demand for Mäori mental health services is increasing at a time when the sector is experiencing a shortage of skills, expertise and a suitably prepared Mäori workforce”, he says.

A national survey of Mäori mental health workers was launched earlier this month by Te Rau Matatini to identify key areas of training need. The results of the survey will be used to develop training packages which enhance both the cultural and clinical expertise of Mäori working in mental health.

“We want to ensure that the training meets workers’ needs which will assist Te Rau Matatini providing the opportunity for Mäori to have direct input. We encourage them to complete the survey so that we can develop training that supports their needs,” says Paul Hirini.

The training packages will be trialled early next year.

“The retention and recruitment of Mäori mental health workers is also a key priority for the organisation, as it seeks to develop Mäori mental health services that are responsive to the needs of Mäori,” says Paul Hirini.

“Mental health is a challenging, yet very rewarding and important industry to be involved in. We want to promote that message to people who are looking at future careers or those who may be looking to make a career transition,” he says.

Te Rau Matatini Director Mason Durie says: “Critical to addressing mental health problems for Mäori is the need to have a workforce that is well prepared from both clinical and cultural perspectives. Te Rau Matatini is an important step in this direction.”

The latest figures released by the Health Workforce Advisory Committee Stocktake revealed 1.4% of registered psychologists are Mäori and less than 1% of occupational therapists and psychiatrists.

The survey has been distributed nationwide to Mäori mental health providers and can also be completed on line at www.matatini.co.nz.

A summary of the survey’s findings will be available on the Te Rau Matatini website in October.

Training programmes to support the Mäori mental health workforce will be released in 2003.

ENDS

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