I-bobbly App: Getting Mobile Mental Health into Indigenous Communities

The suicide rate for Indigenous people is four times Australia’s national rate. Many Indigenous people live in remote parts of Australia where therapists able to deliver suicide prevention treatments are rare or non-existent. And most treatments have been developed for European Australians rather than Aboriginal Australians.

These are the challenges that a smart phone app is trying to overcome. The I-bobbly app has been designed specifically for Aboriginal people living in remote communities. Alive and Kicking Goals Suicide Prevention Project’s Joe Tighe says that this approach might be able reach people that traditional suicide prevention strategies aren’t.

“In remote communities the access to mental health services…is very thin on the ground.” Mr Tighe says. “Some people are very introverted as well and they’re not interested in talking about their feelings or thoughts…to a therapist…and they might work better even on their own.”

The app’s graphics have been designed by Kimberley Indigenous artists, and young Indigenous people have provided the voice-overs. The app delivers a treatment based on mindfulness and values-based action and draws on stories and imagery as well as traditional activities such as drawing, painting, storytelling and fishing.

Mr Tighe says the effectiveness of this new approach will be tested with a controlled trial involving over one hundred people. Feedback will be used to refine the technology and will determine how broadly the approach will be applied.

Population of focus: Aboriginal Australians

Links to resource:

Date: 2013

Organization: Alive and Kicking Goals! Indigenous suicide prevention in the Kimberley, Western Australia