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Spotlight on: VTMH Manager – Adriana Mendoza

This is a fairly new section to our twice yearly e-newsletter. We realise that while many of you reading this do work with some members of our team, many of you don’t know who we are!

To change this, we have decided to share with you an interview with one of our team members in each of these e-newsletters.

In July 2023, we shared our interview with Consumer Consultant Naomi Chapman. This time, Adriana Mendoza has kindly agreed to be interviewed.  

Name: Adriana Mendoza

Job title: Manager at Victorian Transcultural Mental Health

Qualifications: Psychology

Time at VTMH: Almost 6 years

Tell us your work story: I have extensive national and international experience as a leader and mental health worker. I have worked in various regions of Colombia, Northern Territory and Victoria dedicating my professional life to contribute to the mental health sector and organisational reforms to respond to the realities of diverse communities. 

Supervising, mentoring and coaching mental health practitioners has been a key component of my work, as I deeply value accompanying self-reflection processes.

I have also worked directly with consumers, family members, carers and supporters providing counselling and psychotherapy. In Colombia I worked with survivors of political violence, in Alice Springs with First Nations communities, and in Victoria with consumers and carers experiencing very challenging mental health situations.

Working in collaboration and co-creating possibilities have been part of my philosophy. For example, in the Northern Territory I supported services and community leaders to co-design wellbeing services with and for First Nation communities. In Victoria I have also supported community and mental health organisations to enhance their service quality and internal organisational culture. The meaning of partnership and collaboration has been deeply enriched by working alongside lived and living experience workers, as well as community members.

Working at VTMH over the last years has been deeply meaningful in many ways. I believe that my role as VTMH Manager is connected with all previous roles that I have undertaken nationally and internationally.

The mission of the VTMH Unit and the dedication of each team member make me feel very connected with VTMH.  I can genuinely say that VTMH is fully committed to build the capacity of the public Mental Health and Wellbeing sector to deliver services that respond to the needs and strengths of diverse communities. VTMH is leading and joining efforts to build and sustain a safe, inclusive and responsive mental health system.

We do this by:

 a) Providing recommendations to governments, peak bodies, and stakeholder groups to bring a transcultural and intersectional lens to key priority areas.

 b) Supporting organisations to implement organisation-wide approaches to embed cultural responsiveness.

c) Strengthening the capacity of the mental health and wellbeing workforce by providing opportunities for learning, self-reflection, and sharing of knowledge.

In the context of the Mental health reform, I have found the conversations and collaboration with the leads of various organisations very stimulating and relevant. This includes mental health and wellbeing providers, the Department of Health (DoH), Lived and Living experience sector, Community sector, and strategic cross-sector platforms.  

I have also found internal work at VTMH to be deeply committed to our own growth as a Unit, implementing strategies to maintain the quality of our programs and providing supportive spaces for practice development and critical reflections. At the VTMH Unit “collective aspirations” are shared, and “walking the talk” is a driving force for our internal development and practice.

I am looking forward to continue joining efforts that promote a more humanistic, inclusive and culturally responsive system

What attracted you to this role at VTMH? The mission. Supporting the mental health and wellbeing sector to enhance cultural responsiveness in Victoria is completely connected to all parts of my identity as a person and worker.

Proudest achievement/s while working at VTMH: Seeing VTMH growing, which meant creating two new ongoing positions at VTMH: 1) Carer Consultant, and 2) Monitoring, Evaluation and Research consultant. 

What do you hope for and envision for the future of VTMH? Continue as leaders for change in the mental health reform, supporting the sector, organisations and individuals to embed and sustain culturally responsive practices, cultivating and creating more alliances and opportunity for collaboration, supporting inclusive practice where diverse voices are invited and valued and continue responding to the stages of the Mental health reform.

What do you enjoy most about your role? After working hard on a project and “planting seeds”, I really enjoy the feeling that I get when I can see “the fruits”. Seeing meaningful results takes time and effort. 

What do you like to do in your free time? Going to restaurants with my kids and husband, talking with my mother and family who are in Colombia (even if this is through WhatsApp), watching a good movie, playing with my kids, enjoying a sunny day with family and friends.

What’s the last book you read? “The book of joy. Lasting happiness in a changing world” by his holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Demond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.

What’s the first concert you ever attended? Salsa music, when I was in high school.

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list? The Philippines! My mother in law is coming from Colombia to visit us, so we will have a family trip!

Tell us something we might be surprised to hear about you? Everyday in the morning, my husband and I have a mantra that we say with our kids to encourage self-confidence and self-love in them.