A nationwide review looking at effective mental health strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has highlighted the ongoing need for culturally-appropriate and holistic programs and services.
A Closing the Gap Clearinghouse Issues Paper released today has revealed that prevention, treatment and early intervention programs that are Aboriginal-led, family focused and culturally responsive are the most effective in supporting positive change in Aboriginal mental health and wellbeing.
The review looked at a range of services and programs in place around Australia and found that the ones that acknowledge the importance of self-determination, community leadership and governance, community life and connectedness to country, were more effective in dealing with mental health issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Joint first authors, Professor Pat Dudgeon from the School of Indigenous Studies at The University of Western Australia and Associate Professor Roz Walker from the Telethon Kids Institute, agree the paper provides significant feedback to government and service providers about the best way forward for strengthening Aboriginal communities' mental health and wellbeing.
"Ultimately the paper confirms what many Aboriginal people have been saying for the past two decades - that targeted programs with a focus on culture, family and community will deliver the best outcomes," said Associate Professor Roz Walker.
Professor Dudgeon, who is also Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health, and a National Mental Health Commissioner, said the review provides an important reference to government.
"This review has allowed us to report back to government on what are effective strategies and what aren't and we are hopeful this information will provide valuable guidance for future policy and ongoing success for the Australian Government's Closing the Gap agenda."
This paper was commissioned by the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a Council of Australian Governments' initiative jointly funded by all Australian Governments. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Family Studies delivers the Clearinghouse.
A full copy of the review can be found here.