This article is based on a piece that was originally published on the Beyond Blue website.
Finding quality resources that address the social and emotional wellbeing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has historically been a challenge.
“It was like looking for needles in haystacks to find culturally safe, Indigenous-specific wellbeing resources,” says Worimi man, David Edwards, who specialises in Indigenous health promotion. “Most people just used Google, but it was hard to narrow down to Australian Indigenous resources that were evidence based or had been vetted to ensure cultural-safety for our community.”
David is Co-Director of the team behind WellMob, a new website hoping to fill this gap by bringing over 200 practical and effective videos, apps, podcasts and other websites, together in one place.
WellMob was developed by eMHPrac (e-mental health in practice) with the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet and was designed by Indigenous people, to support Indigenous people, whether they’re looking for resources for themselves or others.
The inspiration for WellMob came from frontline health and wellbeing workers, who said they needed a bank of culturally relevant resources to use with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.
With the diverse needs of these communities, the WellMob team knew one of the most important elements was to make the site accessible, through multiple devices.
“I thought of it the other day as the UberEats of Indigenous health,” David says. “You can get a good feed of wellbeing resources delivered 24/7!”
The input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference groups on Larrakia (Darwin), Kaurna (Adelaide) and Bundjalung (Lismore) country was central to this development and they determined the look, feel and functionality of the website.
It was important to everyone that WellMob was user-friendly and engaging. Its design is visually interesting and easy to follow, using storytelling techniques to supply information, rather than just giving a set of facts.
“Our mob often learns and connects with information through story,” says David. “It's part of our culture. We're very language-based and we like to hear a story, pull out the meaning and tease out some of the nuances, as opposed to just being told about anxiety or depression.”
While these resources are aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, WellMob has a lot to offer non-Indigenous audiences too – whether they work with Indigenous communities, or just for themselves.
“I always say, the majority of our health and wellbeing workforce is non-Indigenous – so let's work with them and give them tools to better engage with their clients.”
“It doesn't have to be an evidence-based, online counseling program every time. It can be something as simple as a video that talks about someone's challenges dealing with substance misuse, and how they overcame them through connecting to support.”
“It can be a really great way for a non-Indigenous clinician to build rapport with an Indigenous client too. They’re able to say, ‘Look at this fella, he's really inspiring.’”
This idea of focusing on positive, strengths-based tools is an important part of the philosophy behind WellMob. “I think it's nice to have those more positive stories – to sell the strengths of our culture and how we can reconnect in times when we’re feeling sad, worried, or stressed.”
Though the idea of bringing these resources together in one place was developed long before the pandemic began, David and the team see the site as even more crucial during the restrictions and uncertainty of COVID-19.
“I really think people have found hope with WellMob. And for us, we hope we've launched at a time when our mob could use a one-stop-shop of Indigenous videos, music, dance and language, as a way to keep afloat during these challenging times.”