To mark World Health Day we take a look at a unique Indigenous mindfulness app helping Aboriginal communities tackle stress and maintain mental health.
In an Australian first, the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council (NPYWC) and Smiling Mind developed a meditation program that incorporates Aboriginal language and culture.
The app-based program provides accessible and engaging tools for the 28 Aboriginal communities in the cross-border region of Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.
NPYWC program manager Angela Lynch said with the incidence of mental illness being disproportionately higher amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there was a real need for the creation of a targeted program.
'Research shows that mindfulness-based programs can significantly improve mental health, however, until now there haven't been programs available that cater to the language and culture of Indigenous Australians,' Ms Lynch added.
The program forms part of NPYWC's Uti Kulintjaku project, meaning 'to think and understand clearly' which was established in 2012 to bring together ngangkari (traditional healers), senior Anangu women, interpreters and Western mental health practitioners committed to improving mental health.
'The program explores language and cultural concepts surrounding mental health and wellbeing as a means to addressing current health issues,' Angela said.
'A series of meditations have been scripted and recorded by senior Anangu women in the languages of Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara.'
Smiling Mind Chief Executive Office, Dr Addie Wootten, said they were thrilled to be involved in the development of programs in local languages, particularly during International Year of Indigenous Languages.
'As a proud Australian organisation we are very excited to offer the world's first Indigenous language mindfulness program to the world through our app. We think it has the power to change lives and we hope everyone can benefit,' Addie said.