Anxiety Prevention in Indigenous Youth
Anxiety is the most prevalent psychopathology in young people, with up to 18% suffering from one or more anxiety disorders. Early prevention is important, as many signs of anxiety are often evident in childhood and adolescence. Anxiety disorders have negative consequences for academic, social and individual outcomes, and have been shown to be a precursor to depression, suicide and substance abuse. It is important to focus on a general population health approach of embedding anxiety prevention programs in the school curriculum as well as providing targeted intervention for indicated and at risk groups. Although there are some excellent evidence-based anxiety and depression prevention programs for children and adolescents, there has been little research into the prevention of anxiety in minority populations such as Indigenous young people. While it is easy to hypothesise that Australian Indigenous youth may suffer high levels of anxiety, data to support this are scant. Issues of appropriate research methodology; differing constructs of mental health; variable stressors and protective factors; and difficulties with culturally appropriate assessments and interventions complicate studies. Prevention and early intervention anxiety programs need to be culturally sensitive and adapted for Indigenous youth. This paper argues for more research to be conducted on the specific prevention needs in this seemingly vulnerable population.
anxiety prevention; indigenous youth