Treatment barriers for Māori with social anxiety : a Māori perspective : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University -- Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, Albany, Aotearoa New Zealand

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Social anxiety is a common and debilitating mental health difficulty, however many individuals who suffer from it do not seek help. Research has found social anxiety to be prevalent among Māori and overall treatment rates disproportionately lower. This suggests that a large proportion of Māori with social anxiety in New Zealand are not seeking treatment, highlighting the need for research that explores a Māori perspective of social anxiety and its treatment barriers. In New Zealand there is limited literature pertaining to Māori experiences of treatment-seeking for social anxiety. Utilising a Māori-centred framework, this study aimed to address this through qualitative methods to describe how adult Māori with social anxiety understand their symptoms, treatment barriers, and how treatment barriers could be reduced. The study had the objective of giving validation to the unique perspective of Māori with social anxiety and contributing to the development of culturally appropriate mental health services in New Zealand. Eleven semi-structured interviews were carried out with adult Māori clients who had experienced social anxiety. A brief purpose-built questionnaire exploring six treatment barriers related to social anxiety identified in the literature was also utilised during the interviews. Participants’ interview responses were analysed through thematic analysis to identify themes from the descriptions of their lived experience. Themes highlighted social anxiety as understood as complex and influenced by a number of factors. The questionnaire data supported the thematic analysis findings and together showed treatment barriers as relating to unrecognised social anxiety, social attitudes, psychological symptoms, and cultural disconnection. An increased awareness of social anxiety and its treatment barriers will likely benefit Māori clients and their whānau in managing social anxiety and accessing treatment. The implementation of group programmes and additional information in the community will likely help to increase this awareness and help-seeking behaviours. The research makes a small but unique contribution to literature and clinical practice pertaining to Māori with social anxiety.
Social phobia, Treatment, New Zealand, Maori (New Zealand people), Mental health, Mental health services, Mānatunatu, Tāngata whenua, Mātauranga mate hinengaro, Māori Doctoral Thesis