The IHMHS includes the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing which uses a diagnostic tool for the assessment of mental disorders known as the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). The survey was designed to provide prevalence estimates of selected lifetime mental disorders at the national level, and was last conducted in 2007.
The ABS recognises the importance of having current data about mental health conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To collect this, the CIDI needs testing, and likely modification, to make it both culturally appropriate and able to adequately capture relevant social and cultural determinants of mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The existing CIDI is a thorough assessment tool which can place a significant burden on participants, and it has not been tested with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas.
Equally important is that the data collection process is modified to accommodate a flexible approach and ensure there are adequate support structures incorporated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when responding to a mental health survey. For these reasons, the IHMHS does not have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health prevalence survey. The ABS will continue to working closely with the Department of Health, the National Indigenous Australian's Agency and other stakeholders to plan for for future collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health data, informed by further research.
It should also be noted that while mental health was not the sole and specific focus of the most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2018-19), it included various data items relating to mental health and wellbeing, including:
- Whether ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition
- Type of diagnosed mental health condition
- Whether has psychological disability
- Accessed/used health services for mental health condition
- Whether been to a counselling service in the last 12 months
- Reason(s) didn't go to counsellor in the last 12 months
- Whether consulted a psychologist in the last 2 weeks
- Social and emotional wellbeing
The subject of mental health is part of the engagement we are currently undertaking for the broader IHMHS.
In your response to this paper, the ABS is seeking your input on:
- The key emerging health (including mental health) issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.
- What are your priority data needs, including what is currently not available?
- What information should or shouldn’t be collected? (The topics listed in Appendices 2 and 3 may be used as a guide).