Mental health forum for community workers working with diverse communitites

"Navigating the mental health system forum for community workers who work with people from diverse communities in Canterbury”, a joint activity of the Mental Health team and Can Get Health in Canterbury project, was held on 16 October 2018 at the Lebanese Muslim Association, Lakemba. Thirty seven people of different professional and cultural backgrounds attended.

The forum was an opportunity to better understand the services/agencies involved in the care of a client with a multicultural background who requires mental health care. As well as the mental health specific content, these clients require staff to demonstrate culturally appropriate care.

An expert panel considered two scenarios: a client with mild to moderate anxiety and a client showing symptoms of psychosis. Members of the panel included: Police Acting Inspector Mark Portelli, PSS Psychologist Vivien Suttner, Alaina Sheppard from the Mental Health Access Line, Dr Sherry Basily from Campsie Medical Practice, Joanne Haldane from STARTTS, Graham Brereton from Sydney Local Health Service – Mental Health Acute Care, and Huda Albukhari from Sydney Local Health Service – Canterbury Community Mental Health.

Raising the issue of mental health with a client in a sensitive and culturally appropriate way was demonstrated in a role play by Zena Nikro (Mindwise) psychologist and Feda Abdo Muslim Women’s Association. This is an important skill for community workers.

Other speakers included Mariam Faraj, CESPHN clinical services manager and Carla Knox Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service manager.

Feedback comments included “Panel discussion was very informative. It reinforced the importance of relationships and engagement in Mental Health”, and “A great initiative, much needed in this area".

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