Searching for evidence: What works in indigenous mental health promotion?

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Journal Article
Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2007, 18 (3), pp. 208 - 216
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Issue addressed: The high rates of mental health issues confronting Indigenous populations make it imperative that action to promote mental health and prevent the development of mental health problems is effective. An accumulating evidence base for mental health promotion now exists; however, it remains significantly under-developed for Indigenous groups. Methods: This paper outlines the key findings of a systematic review of the literature undertaken to identify attributes of effective Indigenous mental health promotion interventions. Results: Conclusive evidence of the efficacy of Indigenous mental health promotion interventions could not be determined because the evidence base is limited. However, this review did highlight several important findings. First, there were few well-conducted intervention evaluations; in many, the design was weak and insufficient information was supplied to assess effectiveness. Second, Indigenous mental health promotion initiatives commonly focused on individual behaviour change, rather than the broader social, ecological or policy determinants. Third, many interventions involved extensive Indigenous participation, thus supporting cultural relevance and community involvement, essential for the future of Indigenous mental health promotion. Conclusions: There is insufficient evidence about effective mental health promotion and prevention interventions for indigenous populations.
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