Fact sheet

Strategies and practices for promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Public health Mental health Aboriginal Australians Well-being Aboriginal Australians government relations Indigenous health Australia
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This resource sheet reviews programs that aim to promote social and emotional wellbeing and identifies those that have been evaluated and shown to be effective in relation to Indigenous people. Social and emotional wellbeing is a term that is synonymous with mental health and wellbeing, and is widely used in policy and program documentation related to Indigenous people, as well as in the literature.

The definition of social and emotional wellbeing used in this resource sheet is articulated in the National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional well being 2004–2009:

  • A positive state of wellbeing in which the individual can cope with the normal stress of life and reach his or her potential in work and community life in the context of family, community, culture and broader society.

A range of programs, including education, housing and employment programs, that do not have specific objectives related to promoting mental health, have the potential to positively affect social and emotional wellbeing. These programs are covered in other resource sheets published by the Clearinghouse. A link to these resource sheets is in Table A2 on page 11.

The focus of this resource sheet is on the promotion of social and emotional wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness. Treatment services specifically for people with a drug addiction and/or established mental illness are not considered in detail. Strategies to reduce alcohol and other drug-related harm are also not included as they are the subject of the resource sheet Reducing alcohol and other drug related harm.

The association between mental illness and suicide is well established. A separate resource sheet Strategies to minimise the incidence of suicide and suicidal behaviour has been prepared, therefore programs whose primary purpose is suicide prevention are not considered in this resource sheet.

This resource sheet assesses the effectiveness of Australian and international programs whose primary purpose is to promote the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in urban and remote locations.

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