CQU researcher awarded Advance Queensland fellowship
Published:19 August 2020
CQUniversity’s Professor Janya McCalman has been awarded a $150K Advance Queensland fellowship that will look into Indigenous adolescent mental health harm from COVID-19
CQUniversity’s Professor Janya McCalman has been awarded a $150K Advance Queensland fellowship that will look into Indigenous adolescent mental health harm from COVID-19, and aims to improve recovery and preparedness for future pandemics.
Professor McCalman said the fellowship, titled Preventing secondary harm: Scaffolding healthcare capacity to promote Indigenous adolescents’ mental health, would partner with three Indigenous primary healthcare services, an Indigenous youth group and an education support service. They include Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Apunipima Cape York Health Service, Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Healthcare, Deadly Inspiring Youth doing Good (DIYDG) and Education Queensland’s Transition Support Service.
“Without an enhanced preventive and early intervention mental healthcare response post-COVID-19, we risk further escalation of mental health problems,” Professor McCalman explained.
“This fellowship applies a cutting-edge resilience approach, which suggests that the capacity of Indigenous adolescents to continue functioning after a traumatic event is best supported when the contextual and cultural dynamics, environments and the interacting healthcare, school and other systems and processes that shape resilience and facilitate wellbeing are accounted for in the face of distress.”
Professor McCalman said that without such an enhanced preventive and early intervention mental healthcare response, services will struggle to provide adequate support to Indigenous adolescents with increased risks of anxiety and depression associated with COVID-19.
“This fellowship contributes through enhancing Indigenous adolescent PHC mental health assessment, promotion and support. The research findings will be useful for Queensland's 32 Indigenous primary healthcare services in providing optimal care to their adolescent clients.
Professor McCalman said Queensland’s Indigenous communities and PHC services had responded quickly to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“They locked down non-essential interactions to reduce the considerable risks to morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 such as high rates of Indigenous chronic disease, overcrowded housing and limited healthcare resources. With the easing of restrictions, further challenges and opportunities for keeping community members safe from COVID-19 emerge. PHC services are now faced with protecting from a potential second wave of virus transmission, as well as the need to intervene early to reduce the consequences of mental health conditions associated with exposure to such disasters, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. This will require additional resources, tools and capacity, but also provides an opportunity for improving and resetting PHC systems to better meet needs into the future.”