World Mental Health Day : Call to Implement Commission Recommendations to Close Indigenous Mental Health Gap

WMHD

We call on the Australian Government to ensure ACCHOs are funded to deliver the comprehensive and holistic model of primary health care they aspire to, with the capacity to detect and treat mental health conditions and substance use issues at an early stage.

“We cannot close our eyes to the fact that mental health problems underpin so many other challenges in our communities. It is time ACCHOs were funded to meet these mental health needs in the communities where our peoples live and provide services that are responsive to local need. Such enhanced services not only mean better mental health outcomes, they would lead to savings over time as less people were treated for mental health conditions in hospitals,”

NATSILMH member NACCHO CEO Ms Lisa Briggs

NACCHO director, Canberra, ACT, 13th May, 2015

NATSILMH marked World Mental Health Day by calling on the Australian Government to implement the National Mental Health Commission’s Indigenous-specific recommendations following the National Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes.

Details of Review Here

Download the Senate Report HERE

Download Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Review Summary – Final

“Indigenous Australians are suffering double the rates of psychological distress, mental illnesses and suicide as other Australians, and the data suggests the mental health gap is getting wider. The Commission’s recommendations provide us with a roadmap for closing this gap,” NATSILMH Chair Professor Pat Dudgeon said.

Recommendation 5 of the Commission’s report is that Indigenous mental health is made a national priority and the subject of a COAG Closing the Gap Target. Further, that Australian governments working with Indigenous mental health leaders develop an Indigenous mental health action plan.

“The National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2014-2019 should be implemented as an Indigenous mental health action plan. Indigenous Australians have never had such a dedicated plan and it could make all the difference,” said NATSILMH member Professor Tom Calma AO.

Recommendation 18 of the Commission’s report is for mental health and social and emotional wellbeing teams to be established in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and other Indigenous health services, linked to specialist Indigenous mental health services.

NATSILMH member NACCHO CEO Ms Lisa Briggs called on the Australian Government to ensure ACCHOs are funded to deliver the comprehensive and holistic model of primary health care they aspire to, with the capacity to detect and treat mental health conditions and substance use issues at an early stage.

“We cannot close our eyes to the fact that mental health problems underpin so many other challenges in our communities. It is time ACCHOs were funded to meet these mental health needs in the communities where our peoples live and provide services that are responsive to local need. Such enhanced services not only mean better mental health outcomes, they would lead to savings over time as less people were treated for mental health conditions in hospitals,” said Ms Briggs.

“On World Mental Health Day 2015, we call on Australian governments to adopt a bipartisan approach to closing the mental health gap based on the National Mental Health Commission’s Review recommendations,” said Ms Briggs and Professors Dudgeon and Calma.

 

Factsheet on the Indigenous Mental Health Gap

 

  • Stressful Life Events: Indigenous Australians report these at 1.4 times the rate of other Australians.[i] Stressful life events can be traumatic and impact on mental health. They include: serious illness, serious accident, mental illness, serious disability; death of a family member or close friend, divorce or separation, not able to get a job, Involuntary loss of job, alcohol or drug-related problems, gambling problems, witness to violence, abuse or violent crime, and trouble with the police.[ii]
  • Psychological Distress: In 2012–13, 30 per cent of respondents to the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey over 18 years of age reported high or very high psychological distress levels in the four weeks before the survey interview.[iii] That is nearly three times the non-Indigenous rate.[iv] In 2004-05, high and very high psychological distress levels were reported by 27 per cent of respondents suggesting an increase in Indigenous psychological distress rates over the past decade.[v]
  • Trauma: Trauma is a complex phenomenon, has many symptoms and is hard to measure in a population. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one manifestation of trauma. A 2008 study of Indigenous prisoners in Queensland reported 12.1 per cent of males and 32.3 per cent of females with PTSD.[vi]
  • Mental Health Conditions: Over the period July 2008 to June 2010, Indigenous males were hospitalised for mental health-related conditions at 2.2 times the rate of non- Indigenous males; and Indigenous females at 1.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous females.[vii] Rates of psychiatric disability (including conditions like schizophrenia) are double that of other Australians.[viii]
  • Suicide: The overall indigenous suicide rate was twice the non-Indigenous rate over 2001-10.[ix] Approximately 100 Indigenous deaths by suicide per year took place over that decade. In 2012, 117 suicides were reported.[x] The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2014 report found that hospitalisations for intentional self-harm had increased by 48 percent since 2004-2005.[xi]

[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Family stressors’ Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13, ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001, 27/11/13,

www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/C0E1AC36B1E28917CA257C2F001456E3?opendocument

[Verified 6/7/14].

[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey: Users’ Guide, 2011-13, ABS cat. no. 4363.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra, 2012.

[iii] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Psychological Distress’ Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, First Results, 2012, ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001, 13, 27/11/13, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/9F3C9BDE98B3C5F1CA257C2F00145721?opendocument [Verified 15/7/14]

[iv] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Psychological Distress’ Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, First Results, 2012, ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001, 13, 27/11/13, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/9F3C9BDE98B3C5F1CA257C2F00145721?opendocument [Verified 15/7/14]

[v] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13, ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001, 27/11/13, www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/9F3C9BDE98B3C5F1CA257C2F00145721?opendocument [Verified 18/8/14].

[vi] Heffernen E, Andersen K, Dev A, et al., Prevalence of mental illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland prisons. Med J Aust 2012; 197 (1): 37-41.

[vii] Based on combined data from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012: detailed analyses, Cat. no. IHW 94. Canberra, 2013, p.639.

[viii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Psychiatric Disability Support Services’, Mental Health Services in Australia, May 2014, http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au/services/disability-support/ [Verified 14/8/14].

[ix] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Suicides, Australia, 2010, ABS cat. no. 3309.0, 24/07/12, www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3309.0~2010~Chapter~Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+suicide+deaths?OpenDocument [Verified 15/7/14].

[x] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death 2012 (ABS cat. no. 3303.0), 25/3/12, www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by per cent 20Subject/3303.0~2012~Main per cent 20Features~External per cent 20Causes per cent 20(V01-Y98)~10021 [Verified 29/7/14].

[xi] Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2014, Productivity Commission, Canberra, 2014.

2015-AGM-SQU

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