Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 854–868 | Cite as

The Potential Role of Applied Behavior Analysis in the Cultural Environment of Māori Mental Health

  • Anna PlessasEmail author
  • Jessica McCormack
  • Ignatios Kafantaris
Special Section: Diversity and Inclusion


Significant mental health disparity exists in Aotearoa New Zealand between Māori and the non-Māori majority. Although much has been written about mental health and the cultural competence of health professionals, cultural context has not been specifically considered within the behavioral paradigm, and it was placed in the center of practice in multicultural societies by the behavioral community only recently. In this article, we discuss some of the problems encountered by Māori in the mental health system and the role of behavior analysts in addressing the divide in service provision. Dialogue with other disciplines that investigate the importance of indigenous cultural values is necessary. We conclude with some suggestions about strategies that may be implemented across services by behavior analysts in order to improve mental health outcomes for Māori.


Māori Health disparities Cultural competence Cultural awareness Mental health 


Author Note

We thank for their cultural advice with this paper Dr. Hinemoa Elder, Professor of Indigenous Health Research Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi; and Phyllis Tangitu, General Manager, Māori Health, Lakes District Health Board. We also thank Neil Martin, BCBA-D, Director of International Development of the BACB, for his helpful comments.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monorodi AssociationAthensGreece
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.iCAMHSLakes District Health BoardRotoruaNew Zealand

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