Providing culturally responsive sleep health services to Indigenous adolescents

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to provide culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents suffer from disproportionately high rates of poor sleep – up to twice the rates of other young people, said Associate Professor Yaqut Fatima, project lead, from the Bush Center for Indigenous Health at the University of Queensland.

Improving sleep among young people means increasing their participation in school, sports, cultural and community activities.

Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, home environments, or behavioral issues such as an irregular bedtime.

Our previous studies have shown that young Indigenous people sleep better when they feel connected to their culture and that is why this program is so important.”

doctor.Yakut Fatimah, University of Queensland’s Bush Center for Indigenous Health

The 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program will reach out to over a hundred young people aged 12-18 through workshops in North and West Queensland communities.

The University of Queensland-led program promotes and promotes healthy sleep behaviors by integrating traditional and Western knowledge and was successfully piloted in Mount Isa last year.

Beyond Blue Board program director and psychiatrist Dr. Jason Lee has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Bay Area.

“We need a better understanding of the cultural influences that affect social well-being and well-being, and drawing on the knowledge of communities helps create stronger support services,” said Dr Lee.

β€œIt is also important to consider the links between poor sleep and well-being in children, given the many mental health issues that arise in childhood.”

Karen Chung, a proud Wawani Jarua Gangalida woman, grew up with a daily routine that meant sleep wasn’t an issue until cable TV and the Internet arrived in her remote community.

“We’re not sleeping as well as we used to, and I knew there was something to do that would be good for my family and my community because sleep is important to our culture,” said Ms. Chung.

Ms. Chung completed her training as an Indigenous Sleep Coach under the pilot program and is working towards becoming a Sleep Technician to help her people train a new generation of sleep coaches.

“We are the people of the dream time and we have the oldest continuous culture shaped by dreams, which is why I became a sleep trainer and want to train others,” said Ms. Chung.

The Sleep for Strong Souls project has received $783,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), $185,000 from Beyond Blue, and support from Queensland Children’s Hospital and Health Services, Ngak Min Health, Mithangkaya Nguli – Young People Ahead Youth and Community Services Indigenous Corporation, and the Sleep Health Foundation.

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