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Mental Health Essay: Psychological Issues In Aboriginals And Torren Strait Islander


This task is an individual assessment. The first part of this mental health essay should include discussion about the following (approx. 1400 words):

  1. Describe your chosen topic and how it affects one’s health and the health of the Community?
  2. Use current statistics (less than 5 years old) to illustrate the burden of this issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples compared with non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
  3. Describe how the history of colonization has impacted on the development of this issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  4. Identify and discuss the impact of TWO (2) social determinants of health on the development and progression of this health issue.
  5. Discuss the cultural implications and obstacles to addressing this health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The second part of this mental health essay should include reflection on your discoveries and thoughts about your learning journey, in researching about the topic for this population and your cultural awareness (approx. 400 words). You may want to use some of the insights from your self-reflection and journaling throughout the semester and discuss what you have learnt about yourself and how you saw/now see this topic for this population. The Gibbs Reflection Cycle may be helpful for you here.


The main concept of this mental health essay is to analyze the impact of mental health that has become a major cause of concern given the rising number of cases related to mental health problems in society. Mental health problems affect the thought, temperament, and action of the person who is suffering from it. Several different psychiatric disorders in mental illness can influence the behavioral and emotional well-being of an individual, such as anxiety disorder, mood disorder, psychotic disorder, drug abuse disorder, there has been a higher prevalence of mental health issues among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as compared to the non-indigenous people living in Australia (Parker & Milroy, 2014). Nowadays this problem has become a serious health issue given the surge in the number of cases and its Adverse Impact on wellbeing. In this discussion, different issues that are related to mental health problems in the Aboriginals and Torren Strait Islander people, the impact of their colonization history, different social determinant, and cultural implications and obstacles on the rise of mental health problem among the community are discussed briefly.

Impact Of Mental Health Problems Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
Taking the case of the aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander people, the mental health problem has taken a heavy toll on human lives. The mental problem has the potential to deteriorate the overall health condition of the people by restricting their capacity to live well. Mental illness has pushed the Aboriginals towards alcoholism and more number of the indigenous population is now opting for suicide. The person who is suffering from the disease is not only impacted but the family members are also affected by these mental health issues (Boksa, Joober & Kirmayer, 2014). These indigenous and marginalized community often lives in the remotest area as a result it becomes difficult for them to avail timely medication which is required. There is a direct relationship between mental health and physical health as a result if we look into the case of Aboriginal having a higher incidence of mental illness cases is manifested in other health outcomes in which they perform very poorly in comparison to the non-indigenous population. While mental health is reported to be a significant contributor to the disease risk, there is no credible data available on the severity of mental disorders among community-based Indigenous Australia (Calma, Dudgeon & Bray, 2017).

There is a major contrast when it comes to the health results of the indigenous and mainstream population of Australia. Indigenous adults were 5 times more likely to experience high or extremely high levels of psychological distress as mainstream adults. If one thought of suicide historically then it will be a rare event but in the case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is the second most common form of mortality. According to the study done by Vallesi et al., (2018) shown that the rate of conviction among the indigenous population is higher in comparison to the other community in Australia which is also a leading cause behind the higher occurrence of mental illness among the native population. According to Gee et al., (2014), "dramatic" rise in Aboriginal rates of adolescent suicide, anxiety, and depression, as well as mental wellbeing and cognitive impairment among perpetrators, and perinatal mental health has been found. According to the survey done by Nasir et al., (2018), 29% of the indigenous population residing in Australia over the age of 15 seems to be suffering from mental illness, however the rate among the non-aboriginals of the same age group is around 10%-12%. The same survey states that the rate of mental illness among the aboriginals geriatric individual (60 years and above) is 1.7% more than that of the non-aboriginals.

Impact Of Colonization:
The colonization of Australia has led to a wider impact on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community of Australia which is considered to be the earliest living community in Australia. In history, incidents have also influenced the emotional and social well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These include land loss, alienation from values and traditions, and the general degree of deprivation faced by certain groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Dudgeon et al., 2014). There is a pivotal role played by colonial history when assess the disparity between the health outcomes of the indigenous population and the mainstream population. Institutional oppression is related to the disparity in health status faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have traditionally not had the same chance to be as healthy as mainstream indigenous people. The indigenous population of Australia declined by about 90% because they came in direct violent conflict with the colonizers (Markwick et al., 2015). There was a wave of infectious diseases which spread after that which marginalized and deteriorated their conditions further. At record levels, the sexual harassment and neglect of Native girls and women have brought venereal disease to the native population, Lifestyle, and resource destruction which leads to marginalization and poverty, the gradual takeover of Aboriginal lands for farms, and settlements. All of these events have caused intergenerational trauma pushing the native indigenous people into mental illness problems.

Role Of Social Determinants:
1. Socio Economic Factor
There has been a direct relationship between mental health status and socioeconomic status. On all major indicators, native populations in Australia face socio-economic drawbacks. As per the Australian census, the average household income of aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander population is much lower when compared to the mainstream population as a result they face difficulties in availing of medical services (Chalmers et al., 2014). The unemployment rate among the indigenous population is also comparatively higher as compared to their counterpart. Poor education and literacy ratio are also very high in the native population which has an impact on the mental health outcomes. Due to lower household income, proper diet intake is also not there which the leading cause in aggravating the disease.

2. Racism
Racism has widespread which affects both the forms of mental and physical health. Given their historical background in which they were discriminated against by the colonizers which resulted in their backwardness and deprivation, the same trend also continues today in which they subjected to day-to-day discriminations when it comes to employment opportunities. Initially, even the Australian government did not provide the native people their basic human and civil rights (Kelaher, Ferdinand & Paradies, 2014). They were not provided land rights, freedom to carry out their profession freely, basic medical care, and educational rights. They even lack basic infrastructural facilities. All of these have a direct impact on mental health outcomes. Basic primary and secondary health care services are missing as a consequence they have to travel long distances to avail of healthcare services. All of these discriminations were merely just because they belong to a different race.

Cultural Implication And The Associated Obstacles:
Even now mental illness is considered taboo in our society as a result people use to hide it. In the case of aboriginals because of prevalent illiteracy and even if people can understand the seriousness of mental illness then their cultural practices create major hurdles in getting them treated well. Cultural barriers play an active role in Contributing to inequity for Indigenous Australians in healthcare service provisions (Zubrick et al., 2014). The aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people mostly believe in the traditional medicinal system and make use of herbs and traditional native plants to cure their diseases. Most of them don't believe in the modern healthcare medicinal system which is the major hurdle when it comes to the treatment of mental illness. Many times the differences in skin complexion also create problems. The indigenous people often do not want to be treated by a person of opposite skin complexion. The native and indigenous people are more connected to the environment, because of this they don't want to leave their native place and get their treatment done in any urban area which is full of chaos hence, they are always apprehensive whenever they are outside their niche. In the past and the present several efforts have been made to enter and capture the native place of indigenous people which has made them feel apprehensive when they come in contact with the mainstream population. They believe in spiritual healers rather than mental health counselors. Apart from it, language is one of the barriers when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait people of Australia in health workplaces.

After looking at the above-mentioned point one could conclude that efforts need to be taken to decrease the occurrence of mental illness among the aboriginals and Torres and strait which have been historically deprived of their basic health care rights. In this context, confidence building measures have to be taken to understand the depth of their problems. Steps need to be taken to increase the native population share in employment, education, housing which has a direct impact on mental health outcomes. Targeted mental health programs need to be launched which takes care of the needs of the indigenous population and providing them proper counseling regarding a mental health problem.

In the above evaluation, I have gained a wide range of information and knowledge regarding the prevalence of mental illness problems among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people of Australia. I also came to know that the rate of suffering is higher among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people of Australia in comparison to the mainstream population of Australia. My goal was to classify mental health problems among the indigenous population when studying this assessment.

While working on this project I found that in comparison to other communities, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people suffer more from mental illness. These indigenous Australian groups are more prone to mental illness problems given the historical injustices that they have gone through.

By evaluating the whole scenario of this assessment, I found that the poor mental health condition among the indigenous population depends upon many aspects such as their colonial past, neglect by the local government. There can be several factors that are working behind the actual mental health illness.

From the above valuation, I analyzed that the history of a community has a very major effect on the mental wellbeing of a community, and also the social determinants play a proactive role in maintaining the proper happiness of any community. The cultural implication also impacts the fight against mental illness. This analysis will be very useful for the further advancement of mental health studies which will help get the required solutions.

After working on this assessment, I can conclude that there are several reasons responsible which can directly affect the mental health conditions of any community. After doing this assessment, I came to know that the occurrence of mental illness problem among the Aboriginals and Torres Strait people of Australia is higher in comparison to other communities. From this, I could have done more research about the various health issues that are related to mental illness and what are other factors that can promote mental illness among the indigenous population.

Action Plan:
For the betterment of the indigenous population of Australia, I will try to study other health conditions that are related to the mental health problem. I will try to analyze the government policies and try to bring out any loophole if it is there and will also come out with a unique solution to address the mental health problems of the Aboriginal and Torren Straight people of Australia.

Boksa, P., Joober, R., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2015). Mental wellness in Canada’s Aboriginal communities: striving toward reconciliation. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 40(6), 363.

Calma, T., Dudgeon, P., & Bray, A. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), 255-260.

Chalmers, K. J., Bond, K. S., Jorm, A. F., Kelly, C. M., Kitchener, B. A., & Williams-Tchen, A. J. (2014). Providing culturally appropriate mental health first aid to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander adolescent: development of expert consensus guidelines. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 8(1), 6.

Dudgeon, W., Wright, M., Paradies, Y., Garvey, D., & Walker, I. (2014). Aboriginal social, cultural and historical contexts. In Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (pp. 3-24). Commonwealth Department of Health.

Gee, G., Dudgeon, P., Schultz, C., Hart, A., & Kelly, K. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 2, 55-68.

Kelaher, M. A., Ferdinand, A. S., & Paradies, Y. (2014). Experiencing racism in health care: the mental health impacts for Victorian Aboriginal communities. Medical Journal of Australia, 201(1), 44-47.

Markwick, A., Ansari, Z., Sullivan, M., & McNeil, J. (2015). Social determinants and psychological distress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander adults in the Australian state of Victoria: A cross-sectional population based study. Social Science & Medicine, 128, 178-187.

Nasir, B. F., Toombs, M. R., Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan, S., Kisely, S., Gill, N. S., Black, E., ... & Nicholson, G. C. (2018). Common mental disorders among Indigenous people living in regional, remote and metropolitan Australia: a cross-sectional study. BMJ open, 8(6), e020196.

Parker, R., & Milroy, H. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health: an overview. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 2, 25-38.

Vallesi, S., Wood, L., Dimer, L., & Zada, M. (2018). “In their own voice”—incorporating underlying social determinants into aboriginal health promotion programs. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(7), 1514.

Zubrick, S. R., Shepherd, C. C., Dudgeon, P., Gee, G., Paradies, Y., Scrine, C., & Walker, R. (2014). Social determinants of social and emotional wellbeing. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 2, 93-112.


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