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Let’s focus on Māori wellbeing and solutions for Mental Health Awareness Week

08 October 2018

Kaumātua and Māori cultural advisor Wi Keelan says Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts today, provides an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of Māori wellbeing.

'Increasingly, we are seeing Māori values and aspirations emerging as a positive solution for Māori mental health.

'Dr (Sir) Mason Durie’s seminal framework Te Whare Tapa Wha is a wonderful example of Māori values and frameworks in action. During Mental Health Awareness Week my hope is that everyone embraces kaupapa Māori approaches to mental health and wellbeing,' he says.

Wi Keelan is the kaumatua and cultural advisor for the mental health and addiction quality improvement programme (MHAQIP). The programme is led by the Health Quality & Safety Commission in partnership with health service providers, consumers and their families/whānau. The five-year programme will identify, select and implement quality improvement initiatives and build quality improvement capability in the mental health and addiction sector.

'We need to support Māori consumers of mental health and addiction services, and their whānau, to develop greater health literacy.'

Health literacy is the capacity to find, interpret and use information and health services to make effective decisions for health and wellbeing. In this video, one of the Commission’s partners Querida Whatuira-Strickland talks about the challenges whānau Māori face with health literacy.

'Māori consumers and their whānau need to be able to negotiate the health system. The more confidence they have in engaging with the health system and health professionals, the more they will be able to understand their own mental health - and manage their wellbeing,' Wi Keelan says.

One in three whānau will know, or be related to, someone who is a consumer of our mental health services.

'Whānau want their loved ones to feel safe inside and outside mental health services. Whānau need to know about the early signs and symptoms so they can get their loved one to the right service, as early as possible.'

A major new project from the MHAQIP is focused on improving service transitions. A service transition is the name for a coordinated transfer of consumer care within a health care provider, or between that health care provider and another entity, be it another health care provider, social service provider or other.

Service transitions in the mental health and addiction care context are a complex area, affected by many factors. Service transitions happen constantly within the New Zealand health care system for those who use mental health and addiction services.

'In August we facilitated workshops with district health boards, teams of participants from across the health sector, and consumers and their families/whānau, to work specifically towards improving service transitions for mental health and addiction consumers.

'Those teams are now working together to improve service transitions in their locations. We are very excited about this co-design approach which will develop solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of communities and people across the country.'