Multicultural Interests and Citizenship Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich today launched an innovative new mental health service for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.
The new service, MAITRI, a Hindi word meaning friendship or goodwill, is being established by the Multicultural Service Centre of WA Inc (MSC) with three-year funding from the State Government’s Office of Multicultural Interests.
“It is recognised that mental health services need to respond to the different needs of people from CaLD backgrounds. In particular, mainstream mental health services often struggle to keep up with the numbers and complexities of refugees and other humanitarian entrants,” Ms Ravlich said.
“For instance, humanitarian entrants will often present with a range of inter-related physical and mental health issues arising from a history of poor accommodation, malnourishment and experiences of torture and trauma.”
The Minister said some gaps in the current system which were not being met included the cost and availability of interpreters, a lack of awareness amongst some health professionals of the needs of refugees and humanitarian entrants, the use of inappropriate mental health models and frameworks that did not take account their specific needs, and the difficulties encountered in accessing those services.
Racism, discrimination and resulting social isolation some members of these new and emerging communities encounter, exacerbated the many factors that impact on their mental health.
“The new service will help fill some of those gaps by providing a tailored mental health service which acknowledges the specific needs of people from CaLD backgrounds,” Ms Ravlich said.
The service, by the Multicultural Services Centre, would provide culturally and linguistically appropriate counselling, professional mental health assessments, treatment and management, psycho-education and psychosocial intervention in the client’s preferred language.
This service would be provided by mental health professionals including psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses.
The Minister said the State Government’s commitment to support this new mental health service acknowledged the importance of cultural differences in the understanding and treatment of mental disorders.
This service would provide an innovative model to ensure that mental health needs were adequately met through specialist culturally sensitive program delivery.
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