AstraZeneca Webinar Two Recap with Jean Pepperill and Marnie Weule.

We recently wrapped up our second very successful webinar with our partners at AstraZeneca as part of their own mental health awareness program. RRMH CEO, Joe Hooper, again coordinated two knowledgeable and passionate speakers to educate attendees on the mental health challenges faced by our First Nations people across remote Australia.

Dr Jean Pepperill, a Psychiatry Registrar based in Alice Springs and working within the Mental Health Crisis Team of the Central Australian Mental Health Services, gave a stirring and passionate evidence-based talk on the gap in our knowledge of indigenous mental health, the shortfall of current health policy and the psychological impact on patients that she sees.

“First Nations mental health is extremely important to me. As a training Psychiatrist in Central Australia, every day I see high levels of psychological distress in communities. First Nations mental health is also personal to me. As a Kaytetye woman from Barrow Creek, seeing this level of psychological distress in my own community is heartbreaking. I love my job but this adds an extra layer of difficulty to my work. Despite the education and training I receive as a psychiatry registrar, I felt there was a large gap in knowledge when it comes to First Nations’ mental health. As part of my own self-directed learning, I began to research the literature on First Nations’ mental health,” said Jean.

What I was surprised to find is most research was not current, most research focuses on a deficit model, and most don’t offer evidence-based solutions. I began piecing together a story of First Nations’ mental health that focuses on the lived experiences of First Nations people in Australia and how this story has shaped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing the highest burden of mental health and substance issues compared to all other areas of health. I was privileged to be invited to tell this story with Rural and Remote Mental Health and to participate in a form of truth-telling to ensure better health practice for First Nations people.”

Marnie Weule is a Practice Manager of Thirrili and is based in the Kabi Kabi Nation, Sunshine Coast. Marnie encourages the acknowledgement that Aboriginal people are resourceful and innovative with their mental health if given the right support and care.

“My highlight was listening to Dr Jean speak and knowing that our organisation works solidly towards addressing the key issues that our people have been left with the ramifications of since colonisation.

A key takeaway I would hope is that Aboriginal people are resourceful and innovative and when supported well in the principles of self-determination can achieve outcomes beyond expectations,” said Marnie.

Thank you to AstraZeneca for their ongoing support and for giving us the opportunity to help to educate others on the importance of culturally tailored mental health support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Knowledge is power and through raising awareness we can work together towards a mentally healthier nation.