Mental Health MH17, 2018 – 2021

Indigenous Mental Health


We plan to conduct, in an integrated Indigenous primary care setting, a randomised controlled trial of psychological treatment in Indigenous subjects with depressive disorders (20% of the cohort). The treatment program will be co-designed in close collaboration with the local Indigenous community, catering for social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. This project will incorporate an innovative treatment model that will support evidence-based outcomes and will be adaptable and scalable beyond the research project. It will improve mental health in Indigenous populations and reduce the gap in Indigenous health disparities.

Primary research question: Is a model of mental health care developed by the Indigenous Community and based on cognitive behavioural therapy (hereafter referred to as Indigenous Model of Mental Health Care, IMMHC) more effective than Treatment As Usual (TAU) in Indigenous patients diagnosed with depression? Hypothesis: In participants with depression, IMMHC is more effective than TAU in reducing depressive symptom scores as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edition (BDI-II)(4). Primary objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of IMMHC for 6 months in Indigenous participants with depression. Secondary Objectives: To evaluate: 1. Sustainability of improvements BDI-II scores over a longer time period of 12 months 2. Changes in co-morbid mental health conditions (any anxiety disorder and/or substance use disorder) 3. Changes in quality of life 4. Changes in subsequent health care use and associated costs 5. Qualitative interviews on what works and why it works 6. Costs involved in providing this new model of care.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Toombs is on a number of national and international advisory councils. These include: 1. Australian Society Medical Research: Board of Directors Leaders Indigenous Medical Education Pathways into Medicine Resource Committee. This Steering Committee provides strategic direction and advice on the implementation of program initiatives. 2. Chair of Carbal Aboriginal Medical Services (Toowoomba). In this position, Dr. Toombs has oversight of a thriving Aboriginal Medical Service (32 staff members and services 5000 people). 3. Australian Medical Council Assessment Team Panel Member: The University of Notre Dame Australia 4. Member of Australian Islander Doctors Association (AIDA). 5. Member of a NHMRC Research Translation Faculty in Improving the prevention and management of chronic disease among people with mental health disorders.

Dr Kisley – Professor, Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine – Southside Clinical School, University of Queensland; 2) Princess Alexandria Hospital, Metro South Health Service; 3) Adj Prof, Dalhousie Univ

Funding organisations

  • Mental Health MH17
  • Australia
  • 2018 – 2021