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Programs | Mental Health America

The engagement of Indigenous people with mental health services has traditionally been fraught with difficulty . Geographic isolation, a lack of culturally appropriate services, a lack of Indigenous staff within available services, limited training of mental health service staff regarding Indigenous issues, and stigma and stereotyping all contribute to the limited use of current mental health services by Indigenous people . These factors may be accompanied by a fear of being admitted to hospital or confined in unfamiliar surroundings . Progress towards better understandings and better working relationships has been sporadic, compounded by an historical legacy of miscommunication and, at times, mistrust as to the intent of mental health initiatives. Improvements are occurring due to changes in policy and the perception of the role of 'mental health' in the lives of Indigenous people. The willingness of mental health personnel to reflect on their conduct has also led to the development of better professional relationships .

Promoting the wellbeing & recovery of people living with a mental health condition

With these caveats regarding research conducted into the SEWB of Indigenous people in mind, a number of observations are possible, based on the information that is available. It has been suggested that the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people prior to widespread Australian colonisation was robust by comparison to what it would become following settlement, and relatively better than that of those who had come to settle . It is unlikely, however, that Indigenous people had an idyllic, untroubled existence, devoid of hardship and characterised by consistent abundance. More likely, the diverse geographical and climatic conditions that characterise Australia's land and waterways would require Indigenous people to negotiate their place in the midst of what could at times be harsh physical environments and intricate social networks. That they were and are able to do so is testament to cultural imperatives and priorities inherent in their lifestyles and the ways in which their culture and lifestyles promoted integrated social and emotional wellbeing.

Conclusion | Workplace Mental Health Promotion

We promote the importance and benefits of community mental health and recovery services across Australia.

The overarching goal of the AIMHI project is to improve mental health outcomes for individuals with chronic mental illness . AIMHI is currently operating in five locations around Australia, two of which, the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland - are targeted specifically at Indigenous communities. The Northern Territory initiative includes establishment of baseline measures of mental illness, prevalence and relapse among the Indigenous population . Mental health promotion resources and a mental health relapse prevention program are also being developed .

AIMHI Queensland focuses on six priority areas: assessment of mental health outcome measures; auditing existing mental health services; strengthening families and communities to provide support for individuals with a mental illness; improved information management to assist in the early detection; management and monitoring of mental illness; health promotion to facilitate increases in mental health knowledge; and Indigenous workforce development .

community and mental health nursing Academic Essay …

Like wise health promotion is the process of increasing the functional capacity of all people hence promote the sense of well-being.

The term 'mental health' refers to 'a state of emotional and social wellbeing in which individuals can cope with the normal stresses of life and achieve their potential' . In such a state, individuals may also contribute to community life, and engage in positive and beneficial relationships with others. Mental health is a negotiated state and the result of a complex interplay of factors, both internal and external to the person. It is sensitive to external stressors and mediated by internal biology and neurochemistry. As a resource for daily life, it can be promoted in ways that support and maintain it, or be compromised by other actions. Fluctuations in mental health are normal in that movement between periods of good mental health and periods when it is not as good by comparison are to be expected throughout the lifespan. The National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008 recognised a continuum of mental health ranging from mental health that is good to mental health that has been compromised in some way, perhaps by the emergence of a diagnosable mental illness or other mental health problem . The extent, duration and kinds of impact brought about by these are also diverse, as are the actions that can be taken to assist a return to better mental health. As a term, 'mental health' reflects the broad experiences for a person over the course of their lifetime and not merely those times when they are experiencing problems or are mentally unwell. Mental health is relative in that what is understood to be mentally healthy (and mentally unwell) is, to some extent, constructed and understood within a cultural context.

The review begins by examining aspects of an ongoing debate concerning the terminology used in the context of discussing Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB). Subsequently, the consideration of this term by many Indigenous people to refer to what is more conventionally regarded as 'mental health' allows further exploration of some of the underlying and explicit tensions that exist within the area, beginning with matters of terminology, but extending to other challenges regarding appropriate service provision, policy, intervention and research priorities, and the means by which these practical and conceptual dilemmas might be resolved. What emerges is a picture of Indigenous SEWB that is at once stark in its account of the mental health problems prevalent among Indigenous people, yet encouraging in the resilience shown by Indigenous people in the face of such adversity. Promising too are the efforts made by a variety of health service and other professionals to better appreciate their roles in promoting good SEWB for Indigenous people and the exploration of the varied sites and opportunities in which such work can take place.

For more information about wellness programs, see MHA Position Statement 17, Promotion of Mental Wellness, .
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