Aboriginal women have created a new mindfulness app in their own language

By Australian Geographic 19 March 2019
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The meditation programs are proving to be hugely popular and are now being trialled in schools.

TO HELP IMPROVE mental health in Indigenous communities, Aboriginal women from Central Australia’s NPY Women’s Council have teamed up with Smiling Mind to create an app that offers meditations in their own languages.

Smiling Mind, which produces not-for-profit web and app-based meditation programs, have helped record the meditations, songs and breathing exercises in Kriol, Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjiatjara languages.

The programs use the knowledge of ngangkari (traditional healers) and western psychologists and educators to develop the culturally appropriate mental health program

“Aboriginal adults are twice as likely to experience high levels of psychological distress than that of non-Aboriginal adults,” says NPY program manager, Angela Lynch.

“Research shows that mindfulness-based programs can significantly improve mental health and reduce risk of self-harm in non-Aboriginal people, however, to date there have been no programs available that cater to the language and culture of Indigenous Australians.”

The new app is a part of the Council’s Uti Kulintjaku project, meaning ‘to think and understand clearly’, which began in 2012 to improve education around mental health and wellbeing.

“The program explores language and cultural concepts surrounding mental health and wellbeing as a means to addressing current health issues faced by Anangu,” Angela says.

The meditation programs have proven to be hugely popular and have now been downloaded thousands of times, and the app is currently being trialled in remote Central Australian schools.

The CEO of Smiling Mind, Dr Addie Wooden, is ecstatic about the collaboration.

“We are very proud to have worked with such an amazing group of ngangkari and senior women to provide these resources in their languages,” she says “These resources will support many communities to proactively look after their mental health and wellbeing.

“As a proud Australian organisation we are very excited to offer the world’s first Indigenous language mindfulness program to the world through our app. We think it has the power to change lives and we hope everyone can benefit from it.”