Advances in Mental Health, Vol 11, No 3 (2013)

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A Pilot Investigation into Aboriginal People’s Understandings of Depression and Anxiety

Merridy Malin

Abstract


This project was conducted as part of the Certificate IV in Indigenous Research Capacity Building in response to Aboriginal community concern about the extensive level of grief and high rates of psychological stress and mental illness being documented in Aboriginal communities. The research addressed the questions of what is known about depression and anxiety in Aboriginal communities, and how these conditions are dealt with and talked about. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with Aboriginal people working or studying at an Aboriginal community controlled health agency seeking people’s stories about depression and anxiety. A survey questionnaire was then administered to 75 Aboriginal community people who were not health practitioners or teachers. The interviews were thematically analysed and the questionnaire data were analysed using Excel pivot tables. The project found that almost all the Aboriginal research participants had personal knowledge of someone suffering from depression or anxiety.  All but two of the participants understood these to be serious conditions and had sound understandings of the antecedents, triggers, symptoms and long term impacts. Several stories were told of resilience where, despite harrowing life circumstances, people worked to overcome their depression or anxieties, in their own time, by becoming informed about the condition and, with professional support where necessary, devised strategies for managing them.






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