Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

Dudgeon, P., Chang, E. P., Derry, K. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on suicide prevention in Aboriginal peoples, InSight+, The Medical Journal of Australia.


Suicide is a major public health concern worldwide. Yet suicide has only emerged in the past half century for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter, respectfully referred to as Aboriginal) peoples. Since then, the increase in suicide deaths in Aboriginal communities has been alarming, with an increase of 49% between 2006 and 2018. Suicide rates in Aboriginal peoples are at least twice the rate of non- Indigenous people across gender and age groups; for youths aged 15–24 years, the rate is over five times higher.

COVID-19 does not discriminate against age, race, religion or socio-economic status. Still, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately greater for Aboriginal peoples and communities, due to the systemic historical, political, social and economic determinants of health that influence the uptake, access and efficacy of health and mental health services. These systemic factors underscore the Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) model. This model is a strengths based, holistic health framework for Aboriginal peoples, which reflects the complex interrelationships between self, protective cultural domains, and the encompassing determinants.