Sunday, May 20, 2012

Measuring mental health and cannabis use in remote Indigenous communities: better data for better intervention

Dr India Bohanna

Drug use and the associated mental health impacts are a major health issue in remote Indigenous communities exacerbated by limited access to mental health services.  In Queensland and Northern Territory communities, rates of cannabis use may be as high as one in two, and we have preliminary data suggesting cannabis users are suffering a wide range of mental health impacts, some of which are indicative of drug-induced psychosis. In order to systematically document these mental health impacts and facilitate early intervention, we must first establish reliable and validated research methods to measure mental health in these communities.

The challenges for mental health research in these communities will be outlined, as will be the steps currently being taken to establish systematic approaches to measuring mental health and cannabis use.

It is anticipated that the development of culturally valid and reliable methods for detecting symptoms of mental ill health will facilitate early intervention and thus improve mental health outcomes for those living in remote Indigenous communities.

Dr India Bohanna, Research Fellow, and A/Prof Alan Clough, James Cook University will present at the;

The 13th International Mental Health Conference 6th to the 8th of August 2012 Outrigger Inn (formerly Holiday Inn) Gold Coast, Qld

1 comment:

  1. My thinking is self medication is one way of dealing with dispossession from country, culture and birthright along with the loss of personal agency and control. Instead of focussing on cannabis use as the cause of mental health illness. A closer look at why hidden economy activity (cultivating and selling cannabis) is so prevelant that one in two people are thought to be cannabis users. Take time to explore the social determinents of health and the correlations between drug use and chronic disease.(see the Government Interventions) In terms of developing culturally valid methods for detecting symptoms of mental health that has alread been done quite successfully by Dr Tracey Westerman an Aboriginal woman. I urge Dr Bohanna and A/ Prof Clough to spend at least 8 weeks living full time in a discrete Indigenous Community and then think about whether or not cannabis use is the villian that causes mental health illness. Trans generational trauma and the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Further to that you might like to note the diparity in the prison populations particularly juveniles and the whitenes of systems that position the cultural divide into to binary opposites where dominant society is deemed to be far more worthy and superior to those of us who are compelled by law to suffer the indignities that are thrust upon people who are less able to fight off the powerful paternalistic approaches to manage marginalised peoples. Walk a mile or two in the shoes of the people you want to research. people who are the most researched in the country I might add. Rural, Remote & Isolated communities have many factors that inpact on health outcomes and access to culturally competent health services is another one you might like to research.