First Nations peoples

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First Nations peoples are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Each First Nations community, and each person within the community, is different. Your culture is unique to your Mob. Mob is used to mean a group of First Nations people. It could be a family, clan, or wider community group from a particular land.


Infographic how First Nations Peoples may view mental health

Mental health is about how you think and how you feel. Many First Nations peoples understand mental health by the strength of connections to their:

  • culture
  • community, family, and kinship. Kinship describes how you are related to other people and how this relationship guides your responsibilities to others, the land, and your culture.
  • land, or country. It describes an area you may feel a spiritual connection to because it is where your family came from.
  • spirituality, which is a way of understanding life and connecting with others. Spirituality can provide a sense of purpose or meaning. 

These connections can help to support good mental wellbeing. There are also other ways you can get support with your mental health.

First Nations peoples with intellectual disability can face more challenges than other people.

Some of these challenges include discrimination, more health problems, and contact with the criminal justice systemDiscrimination is when you treat someone badly because of something about them they cannot change.


Concerns you may have when getting help for your mental health and what you can do


As a First Nations person with intellectual disability, you may have some worries about getting help for your mental health. You can get support. You are not alone. It is important to look after yourself.

On this page, we talk about:

  • some common worries people have when they try to get help for their mental health
  • ideas for what you can do if you have these same worries.


You are worried you will not get support for your mental health because you are a First Nations person or have a disability


Understanding your rights

Mental health services must protect your rights. Rights are rules about how everybody should be treated fairly. A right is something everyone has. To find out more visit Your rights.

Being told you cannot get mental health support because you are a First Nations person or because you have a disability is discrimination.

Discrimination ignores your rights. Discrimination is not OK. If you face discrimination, you can:

  • speak up and say it is not OK. To find out more about speaking up visit How to advocate
  • complain. You can ask someone you trust to help you. To find out more about making a complaint visit I am not happy with the service
  • discuss what you are experiencing with someone you trust.


You are worried mental health workers will not understand you or be able to help you


Find mental health workers who understand and can help you

People who will help you are called mental health workers. Mental health workers will try to help you feel better. You can ask for a mental health worker who knows about intellectual disability and has worked with other First Nations peoples.

If you want, you can ask the mental health worker or service if they provide support in a place that you choose. 

If you want your community and family involved in your mental health care, you can ask your mental health worker to include your Mob. To find out more about how your mental health worker can work with your Mob, visit Working with your team.


Get support in your language

You can ask for an interpreter to help you communicate with mental health workers. An interpreter is a person who changes words from your language to a language your mental health worker understands. You or your family can:

  • ask your doctor or the mental health service to help you organise an interpreter
  • ask an National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service to arrange a free interpreter   
  • call, or ask a mental health worker to call, the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.


Help others understand your culture

Your culture is unique to your Mob. It is important for people who support your mental health to understand your culture. Understanding your culture can help them to help you. 

There are lots of ways you can help others to understand your culture, such as:

  • sharing your story
  • suggesting they attend a yarning circle together with your family. A yarning circle is the activity of communicating openly with others about things important to you. Others will not judge what you communicate in a yarning circle. 


You are worried about money


Ask for help
  • If you have a GP you can talk to them about free or cheap mental health services and support.
  • You can ring the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 any time, on any day. The mental health worker will ask you questions about your mental health and what sort of help you need. They may refer you to the local mental health team or they may give you information and contact details about other services that can help you.
  • If you have an NDIS plan, you might be able to get different supports. To find out more about what support you can get from the NDIS, discuss with your care coordinator.


Get free support

You can call and access free services and resources for your mental health. To find out more about services and support for your mental health, visit Where to start to get help and see the below resources.


You are worried about social services if you get mental health support

Social services are services provided by the government, like child welfare and housing support. Child welfare protects children from harm by offering support and making sure they have a safe place to live. Your mental health care is separate from social services. The social services will only get involved in your life if:

  • you need support that is not disability or mental health support
  • you or someone else is in danger. 

Services and supports


Mental health supports

  • iBobbly is an app designed for First Nations peoples to support their own mental health.
  • WellMob is an online tool designed for First Nations peoples to support their own mental health.
  • Proppa Deadly is a talk show where First Nations people tell their stories about mental health problems.
  • Beyond Blue provides resources about mental health problems for First Nations peoples. Beyond Blue also provides information about dealing with discrimination because of your First Nations background.


Translation and Interpreter Services  

  • Lifeline Australia provides crisis support in different languages. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and ask to speak to someone in your language.


Other services and supports

  • National Indigenous Postvention Service provides support for First Nations people and communities affected by suicide. The telephone number for this service is 1800 805 801.
  • Wuuwi Gambling helps provide counselling services for First Nations peoples struggling with gambling issues.
  • Your Room provides information on services that support First Nations peoples to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs. They also provide culturally safe phone counselling and referral.


Search tools for health services and supports

  • Ask Izzy can help you search for the right services and supports for you.