Book of Proceedings: Recommended Reading: From Custody to Community: The Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program

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By April 14, 2020 No Comments

Authors: Penny Dale

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: book of proceedings

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

ISBN: 9780994570260

Abstract: Paper from the 2019 TheMHS Conference by Penny Dale. Published as part of the 2019 Book of Proceedings.


Ed Heffernan is Director of the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service, Stream Lead of the Forensic Mental Health Group at Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, and Associate Professor at The University of Queensland. He is the lead investigator of Partners in Prevention.

Penny Dale and Yasmin Muller are Project Managers for the Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the highest rate of incarceration of any population in the world and are thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australians. Poor social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) and mental illness are endemic among this group. Despite this, there are very few programs developed with and for Indigenous Australians to address mental health problems in custody and in transition to the community. In this presentation we describe the findings of culturally informed research and demonstrate how this translated into meaningful outcomes for Indigenous people in custody through the development of the Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program (IMHIP). Our reflections on the process from research to translation, that facilitated the successful development and implementation of IMHIP, will also be presented. The prevalence of mental disorder, psychological distress, trauma experiences and suicidal thoughts and attempts is extremely high among incarcerated Indigenous Australians. These findings, while adverse, have led to meaningful changes through the development of a highly successful Indigenous-led model of mental health and SEWB care. Opportunities exist to significantly improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in contact with the criminal justice system through culturally informed models of care.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: The audience will gain an understanding of the Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program, and the research that informed it.
Learning Objective 2: This study demonstrates how findings from culturally informed research can be successfully translated into culturally competent models of mental health and social and emotional wellbeing care.

Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., & Dev, A. (2012). Inside Out – The Mental Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Custody Report. Brisbane: Queensland Government
Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., Davidson, F., & Kinner, S. A. (2015). The Family Business – Improving the understanding and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women. Melbourne: Beyondblue

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