M¯aori mental health system in conflict
Jason Haitana says acknowledging his whakapapa has helped him come to terms with his mental health challenges.
The 43-year-old, now a mental health worker, has struggled throughout his life with mental illness.
It was those struggles that led him to want to help other people, especially Ma¯ ori, who were facing similar challenges.
Part of his ambition came from being identified early on for a scholarship from McDonald’s, which funded his undergraduate study in communications at the Auckland University of Technology.
The scholarship is awarded to Ma¯ ori in the Northland area. On paper, he wasn’t an ideal candidate, but the scholarship committee recognised him as a leader.
As one of the first recipients of the scheme, his tuition and accommodation were funded.
After he graduated, he worked in bookstores and as a researcher before taking time off, living on the benefit and working on his mental health.
Haitana is of Nga¯ ti Tu¯ wharetoa and Te A¯ ti Haunuia-Pa¯pa¯rangi descent and spent time living in his iwi’s central North Island region to help form a stronger sense of identity to battle his illness.
‘‘A lot of times, we don’t recognise the beauty of the treasure that we have in our own whakapapa or genealogy,’’ he said.
He returned to study to do a postgraduate diploma in Ma¯ori development. He now works at the Waitemata¯ District Health Board as a mental health consumer advisor for the Rodney community and at North Shore mental health facility He Puna Waiora.
Ma¯ ori mental health services also sees a conflict between clinical models and kaupapa Ma¯ ori.
‘‘Sometimes they clash,’’ he said. ’’But I’m thinking that, if we can incorporate both into one thing, maybe it would be a lot more balanced rather than having this tug-of-war battle between cultural and clinical.’’
Mental health worker Jason Haitana says returning to his iwi areas and learning more about his whakapapa helped him in his own mental health journey.