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Finding ways to address inequalities in Maori mental health

Clocktower.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 4:00pm

Cameron-Lacey-banner
Dr Cameron Lacey, senior researcher at the University of Otago, has been awarded a Health Research Council grant. Photo: supplied.

Inequities for Maori diagnosed with a psychotic disorder are set to be investigated, and ways to address unmet needs found, in a new University of Otago study.

Dr Cameron Lacey, senior lecturer at the University of Otago, has been awarded $535,880 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) for the work.

A range of studies have identified that young Māori are disproportionately affected by psychotic disorders, including first episode psychosis (FEP), and they have worse outcomes, says Dr Lacey.
Rates of hospitalisation for Māori with schizophrenia are 3.5 times higher than the general population, he adds.

His project will use routinely-collected national data to identify detailed patterns of the health services used, both before diagnosis of FEP and post-diagnosis. These patterns will be used to develop best-practice recommendations for Māori and to generate strategies to address areas of unmet need, he says.

The funding is part of the HRC’s first initiative with the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) – a collaboration of 14 health research funding agencies from around the world.

In line with the GACD’s global call for mental health research this year, the HRC partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide up to $2 million in funding for research to better support Māori and Pacific youth with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorders.

The HRC’s senior manager of Māori Health Research Investment, Mr Stacey Pene, says interest in this latest funding call, as well as the calibre of applications, bodes well for mental health research.

“It’s a good indication of potential future work to be done in this area – and shows a willingness to address gaps in mental health services and areas of inequity.”

The Ministry of Health’s Māori Leadership spokesperson, Alison Thom, says a key focus of the New Zealand health system is the prevention and management of chronic disease – including mental health.

“Research that helps us better manage mental health will play a part in contributing to these outcomes. We are pleased to see research proposals with a focus on such critical priorities,” she says.

For further comment:


Professor Kath McPherson
Chief Executive, Health Research Council of New Zealand
Mobile: 021 706 766

Dr Cameron Lacey, University of Otago
Pathways to First Episode Psychosis and outcomes in Māori
24 months, $535,880
Telephone: +64 3 372 0400
Email: cameron.lacey@otago.ac.nz

Further media enquiries:

Aileen Coombe
Acting Communications Advisor, Health Research Council
Telephone: +64 9 303 5220

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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