The study calls for changes in the mental health treatment of indigenous peoples

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A University of Queensland study calls for changes in the way depression is treated in Australia’s Indigenous communities.

The researcher of the UQ Rural Clinical School, Dr. Bushra Nasir said the research has found that current treatments for Indigenous Australians do not work.

“Conventional treatment models do not incorporate indigenous understanding of the mind “Dr. Nasir said.

“Our results show that the treatment of depression in indigenous communities should extend beyond clinical approaches.

“Maintaining culture, spiritual beliefs, autonomy and connection to the country will have a significant impact on improving the mental health and well-being of indigenous people.”

Dr. Nasir said there is also emerging evidence of the link between health and indigenous connections to traditional lands.

“Culture and identity were found to be central to the perceptions of health and well-being of Australian Indigenous people, not just individually, but as a community,” he said.

“Mental disorder rates for people living in the country have been identified as about half those in major communities.

“Evidence suggests that positive changes in health occur when indigenous people reside, work and live in the country.”

The study was conducted over six months in consultation with seniors, psychologists, mental health workers, Aboriginal medical services (AMS) staff, and current and former users of health services.

Led by the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (Indigenous Commitment), Dra. Maree Toombs, the researchers interviewed three focus groups, drawn from the Darling Downs and southwest Queensland regions.

“Mental illness is a major burden for Indigenous Australians,” Dr Toombs said.

“Earlier, the study on the burden of disease in Australia found that this was mental and they were the leading cause of ill health among Australian Indians.

“The rates of psychological distress among Australian Indians are at least twice that of the general population.

“Recent evidence indicates that the prevalence of common mental disorders among Australian Indigenous adults is more than four times that of non-Indigenous Australians.”

UQ researchers are now developing an indigenous model of mental health care (IMMHC) for effective and culturally appropriate treatment options.

“The goal of the IMMHC is to assess and decrease the severity of depressive symptoms,” Dr. Toombs.

“The connection with culture and the country was described as inalienable indigenous rights and as ways to improve health and well – being.

“The elders stressed that allowing access and connection to sacred countries and places would allow teaching and strengthening culture.

“The elders also raised the issue of insufficient funding and a recommendation was made for indigenous communities to have independence and authority for decision-making.”


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Citation: Study calls for changes in indigenous mental health treatment (2021, July 7), retrieved July 7, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-treatment-indigenous-mental-health .html

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