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Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy

18 December 2003

Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy

The New Zealand Health Strategy is the key document guiding the development and provision of new services in the health and disability sector to improve the health of New Zealanders. The Minister is required, by the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, to determine a strategy and to report to parliament annually on progess in implementing it.

The strategy is made real through a wide range of new initiatives delivering health services and health promotion or through the bolstering of existing projects.

Each year the Minister reports to Parliament on progress on implementing the strategy. This year's report was tabled in Parliament on 18 December 2003.

The report includes a number of case studies highlighting some of the important principles in the strategy. These case studies represent important developments in all parts of the country. A relevant case study is:

Te Rau Matatini aims to strengthen and improve mental health system

This case study may be useful over the Christmas break.

Te Rau Matatini aims to strengthen and improve mental health system

National Mäori Mental Health Workforce Development Organisation, Te Rau Matatini, is working towards improving the effectiveness of the mental health system for tangata whaiora (Mäori accessing mental health services) and whânau.

Programme Manager Kirsty Maxwell-Crawford says Te Rau Matatini’s overall goal is to expand and extend the Mäori mental health workforce and build a comprehensive strategy for Mäori mental health workforce development.

She says the initiative was launched in March 2002 and focuses on nine different projects. A key project is encouraging Mäori students to consider the range of career opportunities in Mäori mental health.

‘There’s a large degree of apprehension and fear attached to working in mental health.

‘We want to remove the mystery and stigma associated with working in mental health and encourage Mäori to consider Mäori mental health as a challenging but rewarding career option.’

She says Te Rau Matatini has been working collaboratively with the Peer Education Trust, Te Ahurei-a-Rangatahi, to achieve this goal.

‘We’ve had young people aged from 18 to 25 utilising youth-centred communication methods such as waiata, hip hop, breakdancing and role playing to promote positive career planning messages to school groups, and the response has been overwhelming.

‘The message is to stay in education, plan for your future and find the right pathway for you.’

Kirsty says another critical project aims to strengthen communication and collaboration pathways between health and education.

‘We are aiming to enhance the placement and internship experiences of Mäori clinical psychology students by bringing together the training institutions, professional bodies and mental health providers to develop mutually beneficial guidelines that encompass the dual clinical and cultural competencies required to work effectively with Mäori tangata whaiora and whänau.’

The remaining projects include developing and piloting training packages for the Mäori mental health workforce, developing a career pathway for Mäori mental health nurses in non-government organisations, improving Mäori mental health detection in primary health care, developing an information infrastructure including a website to provide improved access to information and resources, exploring preceptoring to help orient new Mäori mental health workers, and drafting a National Strategic Mäori Mental Health Plan informed by each of the nine projects.

Te Rau Matatini is also holding a national Mäori Mental Health Child and Adolescent conference in Palmerston North in February 2004.

‘It’s a chance for Mäori mental health child and adolescent workers to share ideas, celebrate creativity and initiative and provide networking opportunities.’

Kirsty says although Te Rau Matatini is still in the pilot stage much work has already been done to further its goals.

‘We are really working to develop systems to further support our Mäori mental health workforce, increase awareness of mental health in other health sectors and encourage Mäori to consider career pathways in Mäori mental health.’

ENDS

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