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A humanistic approach to addressing the needs of Maori homeless people with mental health concerns.

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Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53(1), 94-113

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This article examines humanistic psychology and its application to the issue of homelessness, particularly focusing on the Māori population in New Zealand.

The authors argue for a psychology that is politicised and challenges existing power structures. They emphasise the dehumanising nature of street homelessness and advocate for addressing this societal ailment through a critical humanist approach. This approach calls for compassion, human connection, and an understanding of the societal processes that contribute to homelessness. The paper highlights the disproportionate impact of homelessness, mental illness, and imprisonment on the Māori community, noting that psychiatric admission rates for Māori are significantly higher than other ethnic groups. It addresses the complex interplay of poor living conditions, economic struggles, and social exclusion on the well-being of homeless individuals. The authors argue that homelessness is not just a housing issue but a result of social stratification and the legacy of colonialism, noting that many Māori homeless come from backgrounds of violence and abuse. The narrative interviews conducted with Māori homeless people and mental health professionals reveal the necessity of a humanistic and culturally informed approach to mental health care. The study emphasises the importance of building trust and respect, understanding cultural practices, and providing human-centred interventions. It also discusses the barriers Māori face in accessing mental health services and the need for culturally appropriate assessment methods. The paper advocates for a strengths-based perspective in mental health services, highlighting the resilience and resourcefulness of the Māori people. It calls for a shift from technique-dominated approaches to more context-focused, long-term strategies that align with Māori mental health models. The authors stress the need for a balanced approach that considers the body, person, family, and environment, grounding the treatment in the cultural and spiritual dimensions of the Māori life.

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