Mental Health report "not radical enough" for Māori

By Talisa Kupenga

A Māori health provider is slamming the new Mental Health and Addictions report released by the government.  Te Rau Matatini chief executive Maria Baker says Māori have the worst outcomes but recommendations fail to give them a voice.

Kia Piki Te Ora general manager Michael Naera says some Māori organisations are disgusted at the report's blanket approach to Māori.

“One size fits all?  Māori don’t fit into the recommendations.  We’re upset because there were many whānau and voices that talked to the panel but it isn’t reflected.”

Health Minister David Clark says, "The report has taken seriously the voices of the people and those working in the sector and we will be looking closely at all the recommendations."

The report makes 40 recommendations including:

  • Expanding Access and choice of services.
  • Reforming the Mental Health Act.
  • Establishing a "watchdog" Mental Health and Well-being Commission.
  • To consider establishing a Māori health ministry or commission.
  • Complete a suicide prevention strategy.  Set a 20 percent reduction target by 2030.

Minister Clark says, "One of the concerns in the report is around Māori health and well-being so we'll be considering very carefully the recommendations in that area."

Te Rau Matatini Chief Executive Maria Baker says the report gives a lack of mana to Māori and that as the most affected group they need more “assertive, brave and courageous” solutions.

“We need more investment.  Māori are dying.  We are taking our lives, dying early when we are connected with mental health services and have serious mental health issues.  We’ve also got increasing addiction problems.  These are huge issues, this is not radical enough.”

Baker says some of the recommendations are so broad “you could drive a bus through it”.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta disagrees that Māori will not have a voice.

"The Māori caucus knows. The government will carefully consider the priority services for the Māori health sector to include our formal responses."

The government will respond formally to the report March next year.