2 July 2010
The Menzies School of Health Research, The NT Department of Health and Families, beyondblue and Indigenous reference group advisors will meet in Darwin today to launch a project for people at risk of depression and substance misuse in remote Indigenous communities.
The Best practice in Early intervention, Assessment and Treatment of depression and substance misuse (BEAT) study by the Menzies School of Health Research will help understand ways of strengthening mental, social and emotional wellbeing for people living in remote communities.
Associate Professor Tricia Nagel, a consultant psychiatrist and research fellow who leads the fourteen person research team based at Menzies said “It is an exciting project that brings together diverse expertise Indigenous and non Indigenous from across the NT and interstate in mental health, substance use and community development.”
The project stems from previous Menzies research, which found problems with mental health and wellbeing, substance misuse, violence and self harm can be dramatically reduced by working in strengths based therapeutic ways with individuals, families and communities.
“While wellbeing is linked with community strength and cultural continuity, family disharmony and separation from land and cultural identity are linked with emotional distress, depression, substance use and suicide.” Dr Nagel said.
Voluntary participants, in two remote Indigenous communities one in Central Australia and one in the Top End, identified to be at a high risk of depression will engage with Menzies Researchers and community health workers to help to overcome depression and substance misuse.
“Menzies researchers and community health workers will engage in two-way-communication with participants to create a plan to help participants feel stronger.” Dr Nagel said.
One of the main strengths of the project is the involvement of four Indigenous Menzies researchers, who have extensive and diverse knowledge and experience living amongst and working with Indigenous people.
Carolyn Griffin, Aboriginal Mental Health Worker and Senior Indigenous Researcher said “From our previous trial we know that having a two way approach to treatment and care that is Aboriginal way and western way empowers our people. Also, having a care plan that focuses on strengths empowers our people to better self manage their health and wellbeing choosing cultural strategies to deal with issues.”
Senior Indigenous Researcher, Anthony Ah Kit stated “We will include the relevant community members, groups and organisations in all phases of the project. The ‘strengths based’ approach will ensure that individuals and communities are provided with much needed opportunities to identify ways that will draw from their community and cultural strengths when there is a need to deal with issues related to depression and substance misuse.”
Menzies will work closely with community workers and continue to visit the communities every six months over the four year project to monitor progress.
The Best practice in Early intervention, Assessment and Treatment of depression and substance misuse (BEAT) study is funded by Beyondblue: the National Depression Initiative and the NT Department of Health & Families.
Results are expected to be released in 2015.
Media Contact: Victoria Close , Communications Officer
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