An Exploration of Mental Health Promotion in New Zealand: A Qualitative Study
Mental health promotion employs a strengths-based approach and focuses on promoting positive mental health. The current level of knowledge and reporting about mental health promotion efforts occurring in New Zealand is limited. Much of the attention is focused on national initiatives, with little attention or understanding of other health promotion interventions that may be more community focused or smaller in scale. Given this dearth, and the growing rates of mental ill-health in New Zealand, it is important to develop a comprehensive understanding of mental health promotion action in New Zealand. This thesis sought to explore what health promotion practitioners are currently doing to address mental health in New Zealand, in terms of both content and practice. Semistructured interviews were conducted with fifteen health promotion practitioners employed at various organisations in New Zealand. Participants were selected using a combination of maximum variation and snowball sampling methods. Interview transcripts were thematically analysed using both inductive and deductive data analysis methods. Interviews with health promotion practitioners revealed a diverse range of mental health promotion action occurring within New Zealand. The majority of programmes/projects were focused downstream, at the individual level, on developing personal skills. Mental health promotion programmes/projects involving community action, the reorientation of health services, and/or building healthy public policy were reported far less frequently. The findings of this study also revealed that health promotion practitioners in New Zealand have a sound knowledge and understanding of mental health and best practice health promotion. However, interviews highlighted various factors, operating at the systems level, that restricted health promotion practitioners from being able to translate this knowledge into their practice. Health promotion practitioners reported operating within short-term and prescriptive contractual agreements, a tertiary-focused health care system, a fragmented field, and a limited workforce, which created significant challenges for their mental health promotion practice. Particular practices impacted included health promotion practitioners’ equity- and Treaty-based practice and their evaluation capacity. Overall, the findings from this research offer important insights into mental health promotion action occurring in New Zealand. They highlight a number of opportunities for future mental health promotion action, practice and research. Most pertinently, they highlight the need for system level action to address the system level factors restricting health promotion practitioners’ practice.
Advisor: Morgaine, Kate C; Egan, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Public Health
Degree Discipline: Preventive and Social Medicine
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: mental health; mental health promotion; health promotion practice; New Zealand; qualitative
Research Type: Thesis