Whānau is a Māori-language word meaning extended family -especially those who live in the same community or area. If it takes a village to raise a child, Whānau are important to raise the mental wellness of the community.
Though we do not yet run programs in New Zealand, there is a lot we can learn from Māori people and our own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The great respect for the land and the immensely strong connections between extended families present significant opportunities to improve emotional and social wellbeing.
We also draw from indigenous traditions of storytelling to educate each other and pass on knowledge to young people.
First Nations People need better support for mental health in their community but it needs to be much more culturally embedded. New Zealand have come a long way developing a more collective and holistic approach to mental health and we need to bring this knowledge across the ditch and adapt it to local needs and traditions.
Māori people embrace indigenous and Western definitions of concepts like schizophrenia. Medical professionals need to do more to do this sort of blending of traditional and modern wisdom.