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Mental Health Report disheartens Maori Health Provider

The Government has finally released their Mental Health and Addictions report to the public providing 40 recommendations intended as a catalyst for change as well as improving New Zealand’s approach to mental health and addiction.

Māori suicide prevention project leader Michael Naera says, “The report is a disappointment and fails to take into consideration the diversity and demographics of New Zealanders, including Maori, youth and mental health consumers. Whilst, there are recommendations around erecting a national suicide prevention strategy and setting up a ministry for Maori” Naera says, “It’s a one size fits all approach. Unless Maori are at the forefront of change then we will fail to see that change.”

Naera said a National Māori Strategy for Addressing Suicide was presented to the Inquiry panel during their visit to Rotorua. The Strategy was endorsed by the National Iwi chairs Forum, the Kingitanga and Māori specialists and academics nationwide. He said “why on earth would they exclude this from the recommendations.”

Despite strong consensus among Māori encouraging inclusion of te ao Māori (a Maori worldview), matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), whānau and te reo (the language) as essential aspects for well-being for Māori, these principles and strategies were not reflected nor represented in the recommendations.

Naera said a designated National Maori group needs to lead the developments along with dedicated funding specifically to address mental health, addictions and suicide prevention across Maori communities. He also hopes that the Government’s analysis of the report is viewed with an equity lens and not a need to consult in order to produce outcomes unsuited to Maori.

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