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New mental health research draws wisdom from Aboriginal Elders

Media release

Aboriginal Elders and young people will collaborate with youth mental health service providers on improving the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal youth as part of new Curtin University-led research.

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A Curtin-based research team has been awarded $2.45 million by the Federal Government through the Medical Research Future Fund’s Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission, which supports innovative and ground-breaking mental health and suicide prevention research.

The project, titled ‘Our Journey, Our Story: Building bridges to improve Aboriginal youth mental health and wellbeing’, is being led by Dr Michael Wright, from Curtin’s School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology.

Dr Wright, a Nyoongar (Aboriginal) researcher, said the research was inspired by the vision and determination of Aboriginal Elders and youth to make a difference to the mental health of young people.

“By working with Aboriginal Elders and young people across WA, this project will send a clear message to the community that appropriate support services will be there for them when a young person is experiencing mental health issues,” Dr Wright said.

“If young people can access mental health services earlier, we believe it will make a real difference to the mental health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal people. This project will play an important part in the multi-faceted response to the crisis affecting our youth.”

Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said the research project provided measurable strategies to improve youth mental health initiatives locally, nationally and globally.

“This new mental health framework has been developed in consultation with Aboriginal Elders and young people to ensure it responds to their needs in a culturally appropriate manner,” Professor Moran said.

“The Federal Government funding will enable the program to provide greater access to mainstream mental health services for Indigenous young people and improve community perceptions of those services at various sites across regional Western Australia.”

The research team includes representatives from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute Limited, The University of Western Australia, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, and the Telethon Kids Institute.

The Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission aims to assist up to one million people affected by mental illness, by enabling people who might not otherwise benefit from research and trials to take part and be part of the solutions, especially smaller organisations, individuals with lived experience, and early career researchers.

For more information about the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission, visit here.