Education and the mental health and wellbeing of First Nations children and young people
The education of First Nations children and young people is very important and is associated with their wellbeing. There are current policies and programs that address First Nations children’s and young people’s mental wellbeing and school attendance. But there has been a decline in school attendance and an increase in mental illness, including incidences of suicide. Policies and programs must address the complicated associations between structural factors, service design, access to service and schooling, and protective factors. How this can be achieved can be influenced by the recognition of the practices in community-controlled institutions, and the protective and positive factors that occur within First Nations communities. These must be at the forefront in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and practices.
The authors have drawn on scholarly articles, government reports and grey literature, to identify best practice. Areas for further research on mental wellbeing and educational engagement for First Nations children and young people are identified. The paper reviews relevant policies and recent programs to evaluate what works in improving First Nations children’s and young people’s mental wellbeing and school attendance; it identifies gaps in existing literature; and proposes opportunities for further research and evidence-based practice.