Contributing to developing and supporting sustainable mental health and social well being for Indigenous Australians living in remote communities is complex, with much diversity within and between communities and individuals. Drawing from a brief literature review and our fieldwork in small, remote Indigenous communities in Australia from 2006 to 2011, we explore the contexts for what seems to work, and critically re-think the concept of mental health. Much of the conceptualizing around Indigenous mental health focuses on the processes of service provision and too much attention has been paid to indigenizing aspects of mental health and illness rather than to exploring the historical, cultural, social, economic, and other life contexts relevant to mental health - especially with regard to the community as a determinant of mental health. We emphasize that mental health policy and practice needs to be informed by deep understanding of contexts, not just epidemiological evidence, and must therefore involve community development.
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