Ko au te wahine Māori : a phenomenological study of Māori women diagnosed with a mental illness and their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work, Massey University
To date there have been no specific studies undertaken about Maori women, diagnosed with a mental illness and their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, and the services they accessed during this period. I look at the history of psychiatry and psychology and compare that with what it means for Maori to be well, and the differences in treatment approaches between the two. The research involved a review of the literature relative to the study. However, given the paucity of research written about this topic, a wide range of literature was used to form the backdrop to the study. Using a phenomenological approach following Colaizzi's method, seven Maori women diagnosed with a mental illness as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition (DSM-IV) were interviewed and their narratives analysed. The four criteria for inclusion in the study were that the women: I. identify as being Maori; II. have experienced pregnancy, and childbirth; III. had a diagnosis of mental illness, and considered stable enough to take part in the proposed study, as assessed by the Maternal Mental Health staff involved and; IV. there was no documented neurological illness, brain damage, or mental retardation, Three major themes emerged which formed the basis for the analysis. Specifically, identity as a Maori, the treatment approaches participants encountered, and how and why tikanga Maori should be integrated into service delivery for Maori. The results of the study indicate that the participants felt there was a lack of co-ordinated care between services, and that much needs to be done in order to provide appropriate health and mental health treatments for Maori. This includes further research and ongoing workforce development.