New data to help address Māori mental health in West Auckland

By Taroi Black

Te Whānau o Waipareira has new research and data to help address the high rates of poor mental health among Māori in West Auckland. The lead research director Dr. Tanya Allport says the focus should be evidential based not just 'Tikanga Māori'.

High utilization of mental health services in West Auckland prompted the 12-month study to address the issue.

Wai-Research Director, Dr. Tanya Allport says, “Partially it’s a demographic thing, our catchment area here. We have a very high needs population here, we have a young population here. In Whānau house, we offer a very free accessible service, so people do tend to come here, so I think that is the difference really.”

Wai-Research director Dr. Tanya Allport says the findings are not new evidence. The report confirms their understanding of whānau needs in their rohe.

“The next step forward really needs some real rigorous research into what kind of services are meeting needs across this area and in which and getting much better at articulating what it is that meets Māori health that is.”   

The data shows between 2014 and 2015, 8,294 clients used their local Whānau Centre, 52% of whom are Māori. They say this is higher than the proportion of Māori in Waitemata DHB overall and in West Auckland.

Whanau use of mental health services was almost six times higher compared with Waitemata District Health Board for the youth under 19. Adults from 20-64 and over three times higher for older adults.

Dr. Allport says a high focus in the report looked at why the demand was high and why there was no emphasis on preventative services.

“Not just saying that this is a service for Māori and basing it on nothing other than we say, “this is a karakia”, therefore it’s kaupapa Māori service, we really have to get a bit more specific on what works.”

Waipareira services, the Waitemata DHB and East Tamaki Healthcare will share the data to find comparisons into mental health amongst the Auckland communities.