For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, land, family, ancestry, spirituality and community are central to wellbeing. Social and emotional wellbeing is about more than mental health. It means that individuals, their families and their communities are connected to land, to history, to kin and to cultural and spiritual practices. Wellbeing means that people are strong and proud, and that individuals and communities are able to grow and thrive. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience much poorer social and emotional wellbeing than other people. This reflects many years of trauma, grief and loss as a result of colonisation—for example, loss of land and removal of children—and the ongoing impact of injustice, poverty, racism and exclusion. Experiences like this can disrupt connection to yourself, to others, and to culture and spiritual practices. It can also mean that healing is needed. 

Healing is a process that is different for everyone, and may continue throughout a person’s lifetime and across generations. 

Many of the strengths and resources that support healing and help social and emotional wellbeing can be found in traditional culture, such as:

  • kinship networks, ancestors and shared stories 
  • traditional beliefs and customs around healing 
  • physical and spiritual connection with the land
  • elders are highly respected within each Aboriginal community

If you are having trouble coping and you feel broken or sad, there are many ways to find help and healing: 

  • seek help to strengthen your spirit, including traditional healing
  • see a doctor, health worker or counsellor who is respectful of your culture
  • talk to someone you know and trust
  • take part in cultural activities and rituals that help you feel connected

If you need to talk, call our Helpline.

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Remember, you are not alone. Hear stories from people who have been there.

For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.