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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and mental health

3 min read

Your mental health is important

Your mental health is about your state of mind and how you feel about yourself. Just like physical health, it’s an important part of your overall health and wellbeing.

If your mental health is good, it means you are coping with life; you can get things done and feel like an active and contributing member of the community you live in.

Life can be hard

There are many situations and circumstances that can affect your mental health, and make it difficult to stay strong, such as:

  • problems with families and relationships
  • feeling separated from your culture and identity
  • feeling like you’re being discriminated against
  • feeling unsafe because of violence around you
  • troubles with work, or with finding work
  • having a long-term health problem
  • having an insufficient income
  • living in poor housing conditions
  • lacking access to transport
  • having a drug or alcohol problem

It’s important to look after your mental health, especially when times are tough. As well as helping yourself as much as you can, it is important to ask other people for help if you need a hand. (See ‘Getting help and healing’)

Things you can do

There are some simple things you can do to support your mental health and help you stay strong. A few tips for maintaining good mental health include:

Mental illness

Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone feels sad or angry or hopeless at times. But if you’re having trouble coping, or feel broken or sad a lot of the time, this could be a sign of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety.

Most mental illnesses can be effectively treated or managed, so if you have a problem and seek help, there’s every chance that your condition will improve.

There are also online resources that can provide more tips for good mental health and apps for building wellbeing.

Getting help and healing

If you feel like you need help or healing, there are people who can help you. A good place to start is your local doctor or community health service.

You might also want to have a look at these websites:

  • Proppa Deadly (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tell their stories about living with depression and anxiety)
  • Trauma and Grief Network (helpful tips for Indigenous people about dealing with trauma and grief)
  • beyondblue (videos and fact sheets about depression and anxiety in Indigenous people)
  • Stop. Think. Respect (videos and other info about dealing with racial discrimination)

If you live a long way from a city or town, or have limited transport options, and find it difficult to get to a doctor, here are some phone numbers to call, online chat services you can use and websites you can visit:

  • Lifeline (for anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • Counselling Online (for anyone with a drug or alcohol problem) – call 1800 888 236 or chat online
  • Suicide Call Back Service (for anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467 or chat online
  • headspace (for 12–25 year olds) – call 1800 650 890 or chat online
  • Kids Helpline (for 5–25 year olds) – call 1800 55 1800 or chat online
  • ReachOut.com (for 14–25 year olds) – website and online forum

Last reviewed: January 2018

Need more information?

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Found 161 results

Social and emotional wellbeing (including mental health) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people usually take a holistic view of mental health similar to the World Health Organisation definition; in other words, they believe in a whole-of-life approach to the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the community

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