Engaging Australian Aboriginal youth in mental health services


Indigenous Psychological Services, PO Box 1198, East Victoria Park, WA, 6981, Australia. E-mail: ips@ips.iinet.net.au


It is currently estimated that up to 40% of Aboriginal youth (aged 13–17) will experience some form of mental health problem within their lifetime. Of greater concern is the evidence that indicates that Aboriginal youth fail to access mental health services commensurate with this need. This is due, in part, to the characteristically monocultural nature of service delivery of existing services. This paper overviews a model that has been developed specifically for the engagement of Aboriginal youth (aged 13–17 years) in mental health settings. Importantly, a mix of urban (N = 43) and rural (N = 68) Aboriginal youth were represented within the sample to determine its efficacy across different language and tribal groups. The model proved to be effective in engaging 97% of Aboriginal youth (n = 108), with only a small number not effectively engaged (n = 3). The model provides a foundation for the further development of evidence-based models of best practice that have so far provided to be elusive within this complex field.