December 01, 2020
Mental health treatment cast new narrative for Maori
This year’s winner of the prestigious Dr Maarire Goodall Award for contributions to Māori health says she wants a rights based health system.
Psychiatrist Diane Kopua has developed a mental health treatment framework, Mahi a Atua, which uses Māori creation stories or pūrākau as a way to help people think about their situation.
She says health training prioritises western knowledge and treats mātauranga Māori as nice to know but not important.
Māori need to turn that on its head.
"We want the right to determine how we want our health care to be shaped. We want the right to determine how our children should be taught in schools, and when we do behave badly we want the right for the systems that look after and punish those people who are committing crimes to reflect our culture and our world view," Dr Kopua says.
She says while standard psychiatric practice means treating a few people as individuals, Mahi a Atua allows her to heal whole communities.
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