When supporting the wellbeing of an Aboriginal person, it is important to understand the strengths and protective nature of culture, kinship, family and connection to country. It is also critical to be aware that experiences of trauma and loss are a direct outcome of the disruption to cultural wellbeing beginning from colonisation. Compounded trauma and loss of this magnitude continues to have intergenerational effects today.
When supporting an Aboriginal person, it is important to understand:
Evidence shows that Aboriginal people are more likely to access health services where service providers communicate respectfully, build good relationships, have an awareness of the underlying social issues, as well as some understanding of culture and where Aboriginal people are part of the health care team.
- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition
When working with an Aboriginal person the best support will be provided by using similar approaches for working with all people with mental health conditions. However these approaches should be adapted to respect the cultural context. Your support should include:
Something I would recommend to clinicians and people who are dealing with Indigenous mental health - it’s when you are in a community, find the champions in your community. The people who are practising or who are helping with the revival of the culture in those communities.
Each Aboriginal person will be different. It is important to avoid stereotyping. Listen without judgement, ask if you are uncertain and clarify. Build trust by being respectful, reliable and honest.
Working with Aboriginal People: Enhancing Clinical Practice in Mental Health CareThis video and related discussion guide talk about the significance of culture, family, community and spirituality in the healing journey for Aboriginal people. Type: Video | Closed captionsViewing time: Multiple short videos, totalling 26:06Produced by: NSW Health
Indigenous Mental HealthThis video explains how culture and spirituality affect the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.Type: Video | Closed captionsViewing time: 8:57Produced by: Indigenous Health MeDTalk
No shame in talking it outThis fact sheet is a resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It highlights the importance of looking after spiritual, mental, emotional, family and physical wellbeing.Type: Web pageEstimated reading time: 5 minutesProduced by: headspace
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and mental health conditions (MHCC Mental Health Rights Manual)This chapter of the manual highlights mechanisms and services that are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to maximise their access to mental health care, treatment and support in NSW.Type: Web pageEstimated reading time: 10 minutesProduced by: Mental Health Coordinating Council
Social and Emotional WellbeingThis page provides an overview of factors that affect the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and includes links to specific mental health problems.Type: Web pageEstimated reading time: 20 minutesProduced by: Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet
Communicating positively: A guide to appropriate Aboriginal terminologyThis guide highlights appropriate word usage when working with Aboriginal people and communities. The use of accurate and non-offensive language is essential to ensure services and programs that Aboriginal people access are culturally safe.
Type: Publication (PDF)Length: 25 pagesProduced by: NSW Health
Working with Aboriginal people and communities – A practical resourceThis guide was developed to improve service delivery, cultural awareness and responsiveness to the needs of Aboriginal people and communities in NSW.
Type: Publication (PDF)Length: 51 pagesProduced by: NSW Department of Community Services
An introduction to Cultural IntegrityThis is a free online learning course that covers an awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ culture, history and language and ways to communicate effectively. In order to access this training, you will need to set up an account.Type: Free online learningProduced by: QCOSS Community Door