Walking together in friendship: Learning about cultural safety in mainstream mental health services through Aboriginal Participatory Action Research

Helen Milroy, Shraddha Kashyap, Jemma Collova, Michael Mitchell, Angela Ryder, Zacharia Cox, Mat Coleman, Michael Taran, Beatriz Cuesta Briand, Graham Gee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Culturally safe service provision is essential to improving social and emotional wellbeing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and to eliminating health inequities. Cultural safety is about ensuring that all people have a safe and healing journey through services, regardless of their cultural background. In this project, we aim to (1) understand how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples conceptualise cultural safety, and (2) co-design a qualitative interview for the next phase of this project, where we plan to learn about experiences of cultural safety within mental health services. Methods: We conducted six focus groups (in one metro and two regional areas, Western Australia). Following an Aboriginal Participatory Action Research methodology, we yarned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health service users, carers, community members, mental health professionals and Cultural Healers about cultural safety. Results: Participants described a culturally safe service as one where Aboriginal cultural knowledges, life experiences, issues and protocols are understood and acknowledged, and reported that mainstream mental health services are not currently culturally safe. Participants emphasised the importance of building trust, rapport, reciprocity and following appropriate relational processes when designing a qualitative interview for the next phase. Conclusions: A lack of cultural safety in mental health services is likely to contribute to the disparity in outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. Embedding cultural safety into research design allows for authentic community engagement and facilitates knowledge sharing around ways to improve cultural safety in mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-505
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Volume58
Issue number6
Early online date19 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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