More investment needed for kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services

More investment in kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services is needed to ensure the support available meets the level of mental distress experienced by Māori. Despite funding increases over the past five years more needs to be done to achieve equitable funding. This is a key finding in today’s Te Hiringa Mahara – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Te Huringa Tuarua 2023: Kaupapa Māori Services report. 

The report provides an overview of investment into kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services, sheds light on the significant disparities faced by Māori in mental health outcomes, and calls for the need for change to address these inequities.The tangata whaiora Māori who contributed to the report emphasised the funding disparity. 

“Approximately 30 per cent of Māori will experience mental distress to the level categorised as ‘mental disorder’ in any year. However only 11 per cent of current mental health and addiction expenditure is on Kaupapa services,” says Te Hiringa Mahara Board Chair Hayden Wano. 

“Māori make up 17 per cent of the population and have higher levels of mental distress than other population groups but the level of resourcing doesn’t match this.”  

The report amplifies the voices of Māori, underscoring their experiences within a health system that often fails to prioritize Te Ao Māori and tikanga Māori principles. Tāngata whaiora Māori and published Māori voices in the report shed light on the challenges faced by Māori communities and emphasizes the urgent need for change. 

“We want to see more funding allocation to follow the example set by the new Access and Choice programme. The government has committed to ensuring 20 per cent, or $35.5 million each year by 30 June 2024, is allocated to Kaupapa Māori services and Māori providers. This is a positive step forward,” Mr Wano said. 

“It is about more than just funding. These services also need to be empowered to design and deliver services tailored to their communities. In support of this, we advocate for the use of commissioning approaches that acknowledge the principles of mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga.” 

Focus groups who contributed to the research said they hoped to see more holistic services that span the life course, from the “crib to the tomb”, for tāngata whaiora and their whānau.   

“The conclusions we reached build on earlier reports, including Oranga Tāngata, Oranga Whānau and the Waitangi Tribunal’s Hauora report. The thinking lines up with the new Oranga Hinengaro System and Service Framework issued this year by Manatū Hauora. What we want to see now is change,” Mr Wano said.  

“To ensure a more balanced allocation of resources, we call for an increase in funding for kaupapa Māori services to address inequities in the funding model. This includes an allocation of any new mental health and addictions investment allocated to kaupapa Māori services.  

“We also advocate for a comprehensive mental health and addiction prevalence survey to strengthen how decisions about investments are made.  

Read the Kaupapa Māori Services report