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Looking Past the Mess: Māori Homelessness and Mental Health Care

Homelessness is a pressing social and health concern that affects Māori disproportionately. This research explores the provision of mental health services to Māori who are homeless. The thesis has two primary aims. First, to document the experiences of Māori homeless people who live with mental health concerns and their relationships with mental health professionals. Second, to document the experiences of mental health professionals and how they interact with, provide care for, and build relationships with Māori Homeless. The skills of, and the difficulties faced by these professionals in provisions of quality of care are also considered. Three male and three female homeless participants were recruited from the Waikato and Auckland regions. All participants had received care from Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and/or District Health Board services (DHB). Participating mental health professionals included one female and five males. Mental health professionals included counsellors, therapists, psychologists, social workers, crisis team coordinator, and a cultural advisor. All participants took part in individual semi-structured interviews conducted in an open and conversational manner. Key themes for homeless participants included their general life histories of mental illness, mental health service use, relationship with professionals, cultural issues, and concerns that Māori homeless wanted to discuss. Key themes for mental health professionals included their approaches when working with homeless people, relationship building, barriers to working with this group and possible solutions, linking with other professionals or organisations, and issues mental health professionals wanted to discuss. Findings highlight the importance of strong therapeutic relationships between homeless clients and mental health professionals, the need for more joined up (multi-level agency) approach to service delivery, and the importance of Māori ideology in restoring wellbeing and dignity. Findings suggest that the effectiveness of mental health service delivery relies in part on information provided by stakeholders. Information provided by homeless people and mental health professionals informs both service delivery and the ways in which practitioners can best support the needs of homeless people.
Type of thesis
Johnson, D. (2009). Looking Past the Mess: Māori Homelessness and Mental Health Care (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2774
The University of Waikato
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