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Social, emotional and cultural wellbeing

A national listing of support services and programs for social, emotional and cultural wellbeing can be found here: 

The term social, emotional and cultural wellbeing is used by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to describe the social, emotional, spiritual, and cultural wellbeing of a person. The term recognises that connection to land, culture, spirituality, family, and community are at the centre of a person’s wellbeing. When people experience poor social, emotional and cultural wellbeing, their mental health is affected. They may look for ways to try and ‘escape’ their troubles. Some people turn to alcohol and other drugs to make them feel better. 

The effects of alcohol and drug use on mental health

Some people will use alcohol or other drugs to cope with a mental health problem, or sometimes the substance use itself can contribute to problems with mental health. Using alcohol or other drugs can often make any existing mental health problems worse.

Alcohol and other drug dependence

Alcohol and other drug dependence is when a person takes alcohol or other drugs (substance use) over a long period of time even though using the substance is causing them serious problems. They may need more of the substance to get the same effect (build up a tolerance) and may experience withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol or other drug is not taken regularly. Withdrawal symptoms are the physical and mental effects that occur when the amount of the alcohol or other drug in the body begins to fall.

Some substances are more addictive than others

The effects of using some substances (such as ice), can be felt very quickly (quick onset of effect). This means that these substances are more addictive, because the person gets an immediate 'reward' for using. This encourages them to keep going back for more.

What are the signs and symptoms of alcohol and other drug dependence?

Some signs that a person may have become dependent on alcohol or other drugs (substances) are they:

Dealing with an alcohol or other drug dependence needs a long term approach.  You can help someone with a substance use problem by encouraging them to:

  • talk to someone they trust, such as an Elder or friend
  • seek counselling (someone to yarn to)
  • speak to a doctor or another health professional with experience in working with people with substance use disorders
  • seek support from services that can help with alcohol, drugs, and mental health problems
  • seek cultural and spiritual support
  • look after their general health, such as healthy eating and getting regular exercise.

Effects of alcohol on mental health

Drinking alcohol can cause problems such as:

Effects of cannabis on mental health

Cannabis (gunja, yarndi, marijuana) can make a person feel relaxed and happy but it can also make a person restless and change the way they see things such as:

People with schizophrenia are strongly advised not to use cannabis.

Effects of ice on mental health

Ice affects people differently and may cause more problems for some people than others, especially if they have a history of mental illness.

Ice can make people:

Sometimes when a person has been using heavily or has used a lot all at once they may experience psychosis. Symptoms of psychosis include:

Psychosis usually lasts only while someone is on ice or when they are coming down. If the psychosis lasts for more than a few days after a person stops using, they may have a longer term mental illness.

What to do if a person experiences psychosis

Encourage them to:

  • stop using
  • rest - sleep will help them feel more normal
  • seek help – once someone has had psychosis they are likely to get it again, so they should cut back on their ice use.

If someone on ice becomes aggressive:

If you are worried someone is going to be hurt call 000

Getting help

Services

People with alcohol or other drug dependence can get help from many different types of services. These include:

The Knowledge Centre has a listing of services and programs for social, emotional and cultural wellbeing.

Click on the link below:

Knowledge Centre listing of alcohol and other drug services for social, emotional and cultural wellbeing

Medicare mental health care plan

A person who has a diagnosed mental illness may be eligible for help under the Medicare mental health care plan through their doctor. This could include a referral for therapy services provided by a clinical psychologist, appropriately qualified GP, social worker or occupational therapist. For more information ask your doctor.

More information

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Social and emotional wellbeing workers portal has information on many aspects of mental health including:

Click on the link below:

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Social and emotional wellbeing workers portal

If you want help or support or are worried about someone’s alcohol or other drug use call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) in your state.

References

Information on this page is taken from:

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (2011) Key facts – substance use: Social and emotional wellbeing workers web resource Retrieved 2015 from http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/other-health-conditions/sewbworkers/substance-use-issues/key-facts

Bullen L, Casey W, Childs S, Ferguson J, Jack P, Keats J, Miller L, Simpson L, Walker E, Winstock A, Woods J, Strong Spirit Strong Mind team (2012) General principles. In: Lee K, Freeburn B, Ella S, Miller W, Perry J, Conigrave K, eds. Handbook for Aboriginal alcohol and drug work. Sydney: University of Sydney:1-64

Garvey D (2008) Review of the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australian peoples. Retrieved 2015 from http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/other-health-conditions/mental-health/reviews/our-review

National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (2010) Cannabis and mental health. Sydney: National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC)

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (2012) On ice. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)

Radio interview

Listen to our radio interview on Tjuma Pulka about the AODKC Community Portal.

MP3 Download (5.9MB)

 
 
Last updated: 22 September 2016
 
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute