Strong Futures - Improving the understanding and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
We aim to:
- To estimate the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Queensland custody;
- To describe the symptom experience, level of psychological distress and relevant mental health correlates of PTSD in this group;
- To obtain an understanding of the mental health treatment experiences and views about potentially beneficial mental health care; and
- Using the data and advice obtained from an expert reference group, improve the methods of identifying Indigenous women entering custody who suffer from PTSD, and develop appropriate mental health care for this group, both in custody and in transition back to the community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are vastly over represented in prisons and, compared to the community, suffer extraordinarily high rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, this condition is often not diagnosed or misdiagnosed, leading to adverse social and emotional well being outcomes.
While there have been significant developments in the understanding of PTSD diagnosis, symptoms and treatment in the non-Indigenous population, this is not the case for Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people view health from a social and emotional well being perspective and share a complex and often traumatic history that is likely to influence their experiences of PTSD and their mental health treatment needs. A lack of cultural sensitivity in the recognition and treatment of this condition can reduce benefit or even produce harm.
This research will aim to identify Indigenous women in custody who suffer from PTSD, and use a culturally competent clinical and mixed methods approach to determine how the disorder impacts on their social and emotional well-being, and make recommendations to better identify and treat this condition.
Dr Ed Heffernan (Queensland Health)
Kimina Anderson (Queensland Health)
Coralie Ober (University of Queensland)
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