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Mental Health Issue in Aboriginal and Torres Islander People

Introduction to Impact of Colonization and Western Assimilation

The existing stigma and discrimination impacted the mental trauma and has been associated with the people belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Islander people. This community forms the weaker section of the society and possess unequal access to healthcare systems. The Aboriginal and Torres islander community is considered culturally, socially, and economically disadvantaged which results in famine, unemployment, and poverty (Lynore et al.,2015). All these factors lead to mental illness including various other forms of drawbacks which exist from generation to generation. The mental illness is related to Indigenous people that exist from the past and exist in present as well. Healthcare workers play an essential role to create opportunities for Indigenous communities for achieving the goal of equal healthcare services. The reflection mirrors the significance of mental illness in Indigenous communities and also its importance in the present systems (Armstrong et al.,2018). Mental illness in the Aboriginal community can be categories into three major factors and include education, employment, and housing. Healthcare workers act as a major component in relieving the impact of mental illness to improve the mental health status of the people.

Impact of A Mental Health Issue on Aboriginal and Torres Islander People

Mental health issues among the Aboriginal and Torres Islander people resulted in trauma that is impacting their psychological and physical health as well. The people belonging to the socially deprived community experience social stigma followed by discrimination. It means the existence of discrimination based on unequal healthcare services between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal triggered the mental stress leading to depression in a small proportion of the community. In females, the average period of life existence is comparatively 10 years lesser than the males (Lynore et al.,2015). Lack of access to healthcare services will trigger various health issues, for example, non-communicable disease among Indigenous communities creating health burden, imputing both their physical and mental health. Moreover, the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease creates a health burden on Aboriginal and Torres Islander people more as compared to non-Aboriginal people. Moreover, respiratory diseases around 9% and diabetes contribute about 10% of health risk on them (Armstrong et al.,2018). Also, the lack of education and illiteracy among Indigenous people leads to their involvement in smoking, drug, and alcohol abuse. Even pregnant women were linked with smoking which really impacted their health and poses a serious risk to the developing child also. These ill factors were directly correlated with high mental health risk elements. In Australia people were illiterate which is the major reason for domestic violence against women, impacting their lives, and wellbeing leading to mental trauma more in women(Armstrong et al.,2018). The existing trauma and mental disorder added up to a greater extent among Aboriginal communities in the later stages give rise to mental stress including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. The mental health issue has overall affected the mental and emotional wellbeing of the people.

Impact of Colonization

The existing stigma and discrimination from the past based on the socio-economic and cultural background are impacting the mental health of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander people. The Indigenous people have been experiencing community-based oppression and racism since colonization where the group of colonizers in North America forced their cultural values and religion on Aboriginal and Torres Islander people (Associate,2020). This eventually created as space for negative behavior leading to mental trauma. Moreover, the children of Indigenous communities living with their families were separated powerfully by the colonizers in the past between the period of 1910-1917s under the rule of the racist government. (Cathy & Audrey,2015). The indigenous community turned culturally and socially deprived sections of the society and were easily forced to follow white Australians. The separated children were taken to foster homes where they faced unequal care, bringing mental health issues from generation to generation. The ruling Australians sealed their shelter and this affected the Indigenous community mentally and emotionally and leave them in poverty and the loss of shelter creates socio-economic barriers within the community. In the past, the epidemics and associated diseases were prevalent in the community which consequently increases the mortality rate among the community. It has been studied that about 50% of the Indigenous population deaths occur due to smallpox, a spiking disease in the early 1970s (Cathy & Audrey,2015)). Poor access to health care systems owing to remote living restricts them from basic healthcare like immunization. The epidemic consequently spreads from generation to generation and those even the proportion of lives that survived dies due to poverty. The associated trauma with mental and physical health is assumed to accumulate throughout the past and still impact their mental health. (Shane,2020).

The consequent results of high costs for healthcare, loss of land, and cultural barriers create space for mental trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Islander people. The associated mental stress condition leads to anxiety, personal harm, and even suicidal tendencies in extreme conditions. The cultural insecurity owing to the forceful withdrawal of their own beliefs and tradition leaves them with poverty. These factors force them to rob privileged classes and hence remain often associated with criminal justice structure (Cathy & Audrey,2015). Indigenous people's life patterns and living is thought below the basic standards. Health is majorly influenced by the culture and living practices and the social determinants of life were often considered with the state of living. Health status can be judged by the conditions in which an individual is born, worked, and grown (Associate,2020). In the Indigenous community, the state of health is more often affected by social-economic dimensions rather than diseases. High healthcare cost and lack of quality nursing were considered social health determinants which continuously causes mental illness and associated trauma (Shane,2015). One of the biggest factors for not addressing the health issues in Indigenous people was the lack of government conscience. It created a background for the discrimination at institutional which transforms into unequal therapeutic care.

Social Determinants of Health

Good physical and mental health is often associated with the various risk factors, environmental factors, use of healthcare services, and owns own health capabilities. Other socio-economic factors and existing violence related to Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people include differences in employment, education, and income. These differences based on social factors result in decreased health outcomes and are termed as social health determinants. The social determinants are based on one's ways to live, grow, and age. World Health Organization (WHO) co-related health with the living patterns and defined it as a social determinant of health (Song et al.,2015). These factors are mainly affected by the socio-economic background of the individual, for example, the cultural insecurities among Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander owing to loss of culture, shelter left them with mental trauma (Msrkwick et al.,2015). The continued violence and poverty owing to social health determinants created a space for mental trauma and associated illness creating a health gap between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons. Cultural insecurity left the people with unequal learning and education opportunities which consequently leads to unemployment and low income. This factor leads to unhealthy housing conditions impacting their social and cultural wellbeing.

Cultural Implications and Role of Healthcare Workers

The socio-economic gap between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous communities eventually give rise to mental health risk and was even the political and cultural bias contributed to it in an extended way. The pain of mental illness is impacting their everyday lives in the past and future as well (Dyck et al.,2015). Unequal health services and negative behavior by the health care workers in the hospital setting will create cultural insecurity among Aboriginal people impacting their emotional traits. I, being the healthcare provider believes that a therapeutic strong therapeutic relationship is only created by understanding the cultural background of the patient which helps to provide holistic care for the safety and wellbeing of people belonging to a different culture. I will also adopt various skills including active listening and works within the framework of equal care to improve patient outcomes. The barrier between Indigenous patients and non-Indigenous nurses can be solved by receiving training and education to understand their native language(Liikanen & Lehto,2015). I also agree that peer mentorship programs for both healthcare staff and patients as well can create opportunities for improved therapeutic relationships. Training will enhance working skills apart from their theoretical knowledge. Nurses belonging to the Indigenous community can communicate effectively with Indigenous patients to create a healthy therapeutic environment. They can easily share their inner thoughts and pain with the Indigenous nurses which lead to improved patient outcome.

Socio-economic barriers have influenced Indigenous people to a greater extend (Van Den Berg,2015). Cultural differences, reduced access to appropriate health services, social health determinants are some of the factors contributing to unequal healthcare services among Indigenous people. The disrespect shown by the health care providers including nursing staff is another common factor, which restricts the use of quality health services(Dyck et al.,2015). I, as the role of future healthcare provider personally, believe that effective communication can be useful for creating a strong therapeutic relationship with the people from Indigenous community Indigenous people as they do not speak English as their native contrary, while white Australians speak in English only. This leads to ineffective communication which consequently directs therapeutic inequalities(Liikanen & Lehto,2015). Indigenous Australians being the weaker section of the society experience disrespect from the nursing staff. The healthcare workers sometimes ignore the patients and do not attend the patient if belonging to the Indigenous community creating effective care gaps (Liikanen & Lehto,2015). Some healthcare workers even make them stand for long hours without asking them for help. Healthcare workers must respect Indigenous people which can reduce inequality in terms of mental and physical.

Conclusion on Impact of Colonization and Western Assimilation

The existing colonization in the past impacted the physical and mental wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people. The community is culturally and economically deprived sections of the society were effortlessly forced to follow the white Australians. The forceful acceptance of non-Aboriginal cultural and religion left the Aboriginal people in trauma, by creating cultural insecurities. Consequently, the Aboriginal people were deprived of basic requirement including shelter, food, and employment. It triggers mental pain and trauma which remains prevalent from generation to generation. The ruling Australian government sealed their motherland and this affected the Indigenous community mentally and emotionally as well. Lack of access to healthcare and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases were the leading factors impacting their mental health. Healthcare workers must respect Indigenous people which can reduce inequality in terms of mental, physical, and therapeutic care. The primary aim of the care standard is to protect the rights of every patient to receive equal and advance care from a healthcare professional. Healthcare staff must respect and understand the cultural background of patients from the Indigenous community which consequently acts as a ladder towards effective and equal healthcare services. An effective therapeutic environment increases patient care and minimizes mental trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people.

References for Impact of Colonization and Western Assimilation

Armstrong, G., Ironfiel, N., Kelly, C.M., and Dart, D., Arabena, K., Bond, K., Reavley, K., and Anthon, F. (2018). Re-development of mental health first aid guidelines for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and behavior. BMC psychiatry, 18(1),1-12.

Associate, D. (2020). Widening the gap: White ignorance, race relations, and the consequences for Aboriginal people in Australia. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 55(3), 354–371.

Cathy, M., Audrey, S. (2015). The impact of colonization and western assimilation on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. International Journal of Regional and Local History,10(1), 32-46.

Dyck, R. F., Karunanayake, C., Janzen, B., Lawson, J., Ramsden, V. R., Rennie, D. C., Gardipy, P. J., Mccallum, L., Abonyi, S., Dosman, J. A., Episkenew, J.-A., & Pahwa, P. (2015). Do discrimination, residential school attendance, and cultural disruption add to individual-level diabetes risk among Aboriginal people in Canada? BMC Public Health15(1), 1222.

Liikanen, E., & Lehto, L. (2015). Training of nurses in point‐of‐care testing: a systematic review of the literature Review of Training of nurses in pointofcare testing: a systematic review of the literatureJournal of Clinical Nursing22(15-16), 2244–2252.

Lynore, K., West, R., & Tamara, P. (2015). Addressing perinatal mental health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island parents and their families: Working towards better maternity outcomes, A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 46(1), 70-72.

Markwick, A., Ansari, Z., Sullivan, M., Parsons, L., & McNeil, J. (2015). Inequalities in the social determinants of health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: A cross-sectional population-based study in the Australian state of Victoria. International Journal for Equity in Health13(1), 91-99.

Shane, P. (2015). The Psychological Impact of White Settlement on Aboriginal People. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal19(3), 24–29.

Song, R., Hall, H. I., Harrison, K. M., Sharpe, T. T., Lin, L. S., & Dean, H. D. (2015). Identifying the Impact of Social Determinants of Health on Disease Rates Using Correlation Analysis of Area-Based Summary Information. Public Health Reports126(3), 70–80

Van den Berg, R. (2015). Cultural safety in health for Aboriginal people: will it work in Australia? Medical Journal of Australia193(3), 136–137

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