Māori are more likely to be subjected to compulsory mental health treatment and placed in seclusion, the latest Director Of Mental Health annual report has revealed.

The over-representation of Māori in mental health services was first discussed in the  Director’s Annual Report in 2013.

The 2016 report released today shows Māori continue to be put in seclusion (isolation) at much higher rates than non-Māori, despite dedicated efforts to eliminate isolation. Overall seclusion rates have dropped by a quarter since 2009.

In 2016, Māori were 4.8 times more likely to be secluded in an adult inpatient facility than non-Māori, up from 3.7 times in 2013.

The report also shows that Māori are 3.6 times more likely to be put under a compulsory treatment order than non-Māori.

The director, Dr John Cronshaw noted the overall increase in people accessing specialist mental health services – up from 143,021 to 169,454 in 2016 – and said a positive aspect of the statistic was that it reflected more New Zealanders were seeking and receiving mental health care but he acknowledged services were “experiencing increasing pressure”. His report also noted the Māori statistics and said the statistics  “underlined the need for the mental health sector to engage in meaningful action to address the disparity of mental health outcomes for Mâori in New Zealand”. “Reducing this disparity is a priority action for the Ministry of Health and district health boards (DHBs)”.

The New Zealand Herald reported that a hui in June 2015 aimed to find out more about the experiences of tangata whaiora (Māori in mental health care) and how they could be improved. Patients said they often did not understand the treatment process or that they struggled to be released from the Mental Health Act. They also said they wanted a holistic approach to mental health services that increased whanau involvement and the formation of a national body of Maori who hadexperienced mental health care to improve advocacy for tangata whaiora.

The Waitangi Tribunal will begin hearings next year over high rates of Māori suicide being a result of colonisation, including a claim put forward by Jane Stevens, the mother of Nicky Stevens who took his life in March 2015. (See below for services if you want help)


Other Statistics from the Director of Mental Health’s 2016 Annual Report


  • The number of people using specialist mental health services increased from 143,021 people in 2011 to 169,454 people in 2016.


In the National Mental Health Consumer Satisfaction Survey 2015/16:

  • 80% of respondents were satisfied with services
  • 79% would recommend service to friends or family if needed similar care

Wait times 

  • 45% of urgent referrals seen within 48 hours
  • 78% of non-urgent mental health(MH) service referrals were seen within three weeks (target 80%)
  • 93% of non-urgent MH service referrals were seen within eight weeks (target (95%)
  • 83% of non-urgent addiction service referrals were seen within three weeks
  • 94% of non-urgent addiction services were seen within eight weeks


In 2014 (latest coroner’s statistics available):

  • 510 people died by suicide. A further 22 deaths of undetermined intent were recorded in the mortality database.
  • About 46% of those who died by suicide or undetermined intent (among those aged 10–64) were mental health service users.

Use of the Mental Health Act

  • 10,311 people (about 6.1%) of specialist mental health and addiction service users) were subject to the Mental Health Act.
  • Compared to 9,904 people in 2015.
  • Males and people aged 25–34 years were more likely to be subject to the Act than females or other age groups.

Māori and the Mental Health Act

  • 27% of voluntary and compulsory patients were Māori compared to 25% in 2013, 25% in 2014 and 26% in 2015.
  • 1% of Māori accessed mental health services in 2016, compared with 3.1% of non-Māori.
  • Māori were 3.6 times more likely than non- to be subject to a community treatment order, and 3.4 times more likely to be subject to an inpatient treatment order.


  • The total number of hours of seclusion between 2015 and 2016 has decreased by 11% however the total number of people secluded has increased by 6%.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, the total number of people secluded decreased by 25 percent.
  • The total number of hours spent in seclusion has decreased by 62 percent since 2009.

Where to get help

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)


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