A Maori mental health professional says New Zealand is struggling to keep up with the increasing number of young Maori being diagnosed with mental illness, substance abuse and rangatahi committing suicide.
Ana Sokratov is a Maori committee member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and recently raised the issue at a mental health conference in Dunedin.
She is about to reveal statistics which show that although the non-Maori youth suicide rate has declined, the suicide rate for rangatahi Maori has not.
About half of suicides are among Maori aged between 10 and 14-years-old.
Ms Sokratov said while a number of services based on Whanau Ora, Maori tikanga and kaupapa are helping, more needs to be done to help rangatahi deal with mental health and addiction issues.
She said Maori cultural workers in mental heath services were very important for bridging the gap between general clinicians and Maori families.
Ms Sokratov said there was a need for Maori to grow their own specific workforce and services and to support mainstream services.