Kaupapa Māori front and centre in new mental health training programme

A new training programme at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (Awanuiārangi) will have kaupapa Māori front and centre in its effort to tackle the country’s mental health crisis.

The postgraduate diploma in applied mental health and addictions counselling (Level 8)/Pourewa Oranga Hinengaro is a nine-month programme designed to develop the mental health workforce within whānau, hapū and iwi, and other communities and industries.

It will equip students with skills to support those battling mental health and or addiction and has been endorsed by the Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa (DAPAANZ).

Lecturer and programme lead Te Rangimaria Warbrick says it’s targeted at both those working in the field as well as those looking at career shifts into mental health.

“It is designed to give practitioners an extensive knowledge and practice of modern mental health and addiction therapies, while at the same time integrating tikanga and ahuatanga Māori into their practice, and ultimately, enabling practitioners to create their own kaupapa practice frameworks.”

Mr Warbrick says he’s looking forward to seeing students develop their own unique kaupapa Māori models of practice that align with the needs of their communities.

“The programme is a coming together of two worlds – cultural and clinical,” he says.

“How the programme is written and taught will be specific to the wānanga process where we seek to create best practice that has a clear focus on kaupapa Māori methods that our communities will be able to respond to.”

The head of the Indigenous Studies School at Awanuiārangi, Professor Mera Penehira, says the course will focus on building workforce capacity in this area and in a way that hasn’t happened in Aotearoa to date.

“It’s a step forward for transformative changes in a sector that has lacked the capacity to build our workforce using kaupapa Māori methodologies,” Penehira says.

“The future is about adding to indigenous knowledge through transformative practices that can be introduced when attempting to tackle drug and alcohol addiction.

“At Awanuiārangi, we’re committed to delivering programmes that are specifically based on the values of āhuatanga Māori according to tikanga Māori, and this is one of these examples. At the same time, we’re really keen to support and investigate the connections with what we are doing here and what’s happening elsewhere in world in regard to native and indigenous peoples.”

The course follows a blended delivery approach with noho wānanga (face-to-face, Covid-19 alert levels permitting), supported by online learning, and work-integrated learning where students must complete a minimum of 120 hours practising as an addictions practitioner under supervision. Other learning activities include tutorials, expert panel discussions, case studies, online discussions, researching with whānau, hapū and iwi, and practice-based activities. Graduates of the programme will then be eligible to apply for registration with DAPAANZ.

The course will begin in August 2022, with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi welcoming applicants to the initiative from today.