Data sources: A systematic search was carried out of publications and data sources since 2000 using PubMed, PsycINFO, Australian Medical Index, the National Library of Australia and datasets known to the authors.
Data synthesis: Across seven studies, Indigenous adults were consistently found to have a higher prevalence of self-reported psychological distress than the general community. However, two studies of Indigenous adolescents did not find a higher prevalence of psychological distress. Two surveys of parents and carers of Indigenous children and adolescents found a higher prevalence of behaviour problems.
Conclusions: There is an inequality in mental health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians that starts from an early age. This needs to be a priority for research, preventive action and health services.
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