New Indigenous mental health resource to be launched

Meeting the social and emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will become easier following the launch of a new website at the 46th Australian Psychological Society (APS) Annual Conference in Canberra today.

Heather Gridley, Manager of Public Interest at the APS, said: “There is growing recognition of the need for programs and services to address social and emotional wellbeing and mental health issues in many Indigenous communities. However, if such issues are confronted or dealt with in a culturally inappropriate way, well-meaning service providers can unwittingly do more harm than good.”

The web resource is a new initiative that showcases ‘promising practice’ principles and methods and features examples from existing programs and services in order to assist service providers seeking to develop, or improve, a culturally appropriate service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Site users will be able to search an extensive database of Indigenous-specific social and emotional wellbeing services and programs across Australia, and access information on culturally-specific tools that have been developed, or adapted, for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The website – Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services in Aboriginal Australia (SEWBMH) –  was developed following a comprehensive review of 46 indigenous-specific services in remote, rural and urban settings across Australia. This review was conducted for the APS by a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists, who went on to form the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association following their involvement in the project, which was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Ms Gridley said: “The site hopes to increase policy makers’ understanding of innovative, best-practice models that work in indigenous communities. Some of the Indigenous-led programs have been operating ‘under the radar’ for some time, but they work because they are what their communities asked for”.

Tuesday 4 October 2011, 3.30 – 4pm, Sutherland Theatrette, National Convention Centre, Canberra

To attend the launch or to arrange an interview, please contact: Karen Coghlan on 0435 896 444, Judith Heywood on 03 8662 3301 or Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358.