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Nation Called Together As Government Launch National Mental Health Approach

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has welcomed the Governments launch of “Kia Manawanui Aotearoa” the nations strategy for the long-term pathway to mental well-being. This is the Governments response to recommendations of He Ara Oranga – the Inquiry into Mental Health. Tukaki, the former Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia who played a role in Australia’s reforms for nearly a decade and has been active in suicide prevention Aotearoa for the last five years has said that we face a great many challenges ahead.

Tukaki joined the Health Minister, Andrew Little, for the launch of Kia Manawanui this morning.

“As a nation we have been struggling with a mental health sector under pressure for many years and the demand on it has been amplified by the COVID19 pandemic. Our suicide rates amongst Maori have been amongst the highest in the western world and for want of a better way of describing it – what we have been doing has not been working. And yet, every single day whanau and organisations from across the nation do as much as they can to support those who are vulnerable.” Tukaki said

“Mental health and suicide impacts us all, no matter our ethnicity or age; or even our location and that’s why it should give us strength of purpose to know that as a nation we can work together in solving the challenge. Setting new targets for access to mental health and addiction services backed up by the investment needed by groups at the coalface is fundamental – including more investment for Maori Kaupapa service delivery and designed programs. We need to equip our community frontline services to do the mahi” Tukaki said

“Programs and workforces need to be joined up that leads to great ease of access for whanau and those going through challenging times – it must be easier to navigate, access and receive support when you need it the most. The joining up of this strategy with Whakamaua, the Maori Health Action Plan, and now also our approach to the ongoing impacts of COVID19 will also be fundamental – in other words everyone moving in the same direction.” Tukaki said

“But my central message is simply this – its time to get on with the mahi, all of us in the same waka and all of us paddling in the same direction. The reality is that mental health is very much about the daily of life – the challenges many face such as the breakdown in relationships, the failure of a small business, the challenge of identity acceptance and so much more – that why we need to focus on prevention because once people begin hitting the mental health system we start to lose the fight.” Tukaki said

Tukaki said that Maori play a pivotal role:

“We need to, we must, ensure that the Maori voice is not just strong but leads out the design of solutions and services for and by Maori” Tukaki said

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