The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has advocated for the implementation of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017 – 2023.
The APS believes that a joint commitment from both the indigenous communities and the government will make way for successful outcomes for Australia’s ongoing Indigenous mental-health & suicide crisis.
The framework presents a culturally appropriate design for the healthcare administration in both the indigenous and mainstream services. It aims to develop the partnership between the indigenous health leaders and communities by preparing culturally competent health professionals.
This plan is a far cry from the past approaches to assessment and treatment implemented by the APS in 2016, which caused the organisation to apologise to the Aboriginal and Torrest Strait Islander people.
Anthony Cichello, President of the APS and Co-chair with Professor Pat Dudgeon of the APS Indigenous Psychology Advisory Group, stressed that the organisation is now laying the groundwork to train more culturally informed and competent psychologists and acquire indigenous psychologists.
Mr Cichello said, “The APS is committed to increasing the numbers of culturally competent psychologists to help Indigenous Australians realise self-determination in the delivery of healthcare services that finally do close the mental health gap,”.
Professor Dudgeon strengthened the importance of having culturally competent psychologists saying, “Culturally appropriate health services respect, strengthen and build on Indigenous culture, which lays the foundation for improving Indigenous mental health and preventing suicide.”
“Cultural concepts such as connection to land, culture, spirituality, family and community are central to social and emotional wellbeing,“
They’re protective factors and a source of resilience against elements at the crux of poor Indigenous mental health – such as racism, discrimination, trauma and grief, entrenched poverty and social disadvantage.”
General Practitioner from House Call Doctor, Dr Ryan Harvey says:
“As a General Practitioner, I support the recent announcement by the Australian Psychological Society to commit to increasing the number of psychologists available to help Indigenous Australians. The movement to Close the Gap has many factors to it, and mental health should absolutely be a priority.
A key focus should be ensuring all medical professionals working with and in Indigenous communities keep the importance of culture in mind when understanding and treating patients. The recent National Strategic Framework is a fantastic development in improving services within Indigenous communities, for both their social and emotional wellbeing.”
Dr Ryan Harvey is a General Practitioner providing after-hours medical care to children and families. Dr Harvey is experienced in paediatrics and has travelled extensively, administering medical care to children in remote overseas communities. He now works with many families, administering acute care when unexpected medical situations arise overnight. Dr Harvey is one of the many doctors with House Call Doctor, an organisation that provides urgent after-hours medical care to residents in Queensland, when their regular GP is closed.
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