Indigenous communities and the mental health impacts of land dispossession related to industrial resource development: a systematic review

Elsevier, The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 7, June 2023
Ninomiya M.E.M., Burns N., Pollock N.J., Green N.T.G., Martin J., Linton J. et al.

Globally, many resource extraction projects such as mines and hydroelectric dams are developed on the territories of Indigenous Peoples. Recognising land as a determinant of Indigenous Peoples’ health, our objective is to synthesise evidence about the mental health impacts on Indigenous communities who experience land dispossession due to industrial resource development (mining, hydroelectric, petroleum, and agricultural). We systematically reviewed studies that focused on Indigenous land dispossession in Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand), North and South America, and the Circumpolar North. We searched Scopus, Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and Global Health on OVID for peer-reviewed articles published in English from database inception to Dec 31, 2020. We also searched for books, research reports, and scholarly journals specialising in Indigenous health or Indigenous research. We included documents that reported on primary research, focused on Indigenous Peoples in settler colonial states, and reported on mental health and industrial resource development. Of the 29 included studies, 13 were related to hydroelectric dams, 11 to petroleum developments, nine to mining, and two to agriculture. Land dispossession due to industrial resource development had predominantly negative mental health impacts on Indigenous communities. The impacts were consequences of colonial relations that threatened Indigenous identities, resources, languages, traditions, spirituality, and ways of life. Health impact assessment processes in industrial resource development must expressly consider risks and potential impacts on mental health and respect Indigenous rights by making knowledge about mental health risks a central component to decisions about free, prior, and informed consent.