How living on traditional land prevents mental illness

Rates of mental health among Indigenous Australians even higher than thought

Indigenous Australians are up to seven times more likely to have a mental health illness than the general population, but those living on traditional lands fare better, research shows.

Psychologists at the University of Queensland conducted face-to-face interviews with 544 Indigenous people in urban and remote areas.

They categorised the disorders they found into three groups — mood, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

The study revealed the rate of mental health disorders in Indigenous Australians was higher than previously estimated.

It showed participants were seven times more likely to have mood disorders, four times more likely to have anxiety disorders and seven times more likely to have substance abuse disorders than the wider Australian population.

The most common diagnoses were post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and major depressive disorder.

The study also