Indexed on: 17 Sep '04Published on: 17 Sep '04Published in: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
To consider the impact of community treatment orders (CommTOs) on Maori patients and their whanau (extended family) and the associated views of mental health professionals.As a distinct aspect of a larger study of CommTOs, eight Maori patients under compulsory community care were interviewed and, where possible, members of their whanau. Associated interviews were held with their psychiatrists, key workers and other carers: 39 interviews in total.Both benefits and drawbacks of CommTOs for Maori were identified by patients and whanau. CommTOs were considered helpful in increasing patient safety and whanau security and in promoting access to services. They were favoured over hospital care, forensic care and homelessness. The drawbacks included the sense of external control imposed on both Maori patients and staff, particularly concerning medication and restrictions on choices.This was a small study of a limited number of Maori patients under CommTOs. Their views may not be fully representative. There was a general consensus among those interviewed that the timely use of CommTOs can enhance the mental wellbeing and social relationships of Maori patients. Continuing efforts are needed by health professionals to communicate effectively with whanau and to understand the conflicts experienced by Maori in reconciling their traditional beliefs with the medical model of mental illness.