Story Category: New Program Model Categories

Spirituality & Diversity Discussion Group 2019

This project was developed as a result of feedback from a joint forum held by VTMH and Spiritual Health Association in August 2017, ‘Opening Doors to Spiritual Experience: exploring practices that enrich personal recovery’. A strong theme that came out of the feedback received from this event was that mental health practitioners were wanting more reflective spaces to discuss Spirituality in regards to Recovery.

Through six, monthly sessions lasting 90 minutes each, these groups have consisted of participants from various mental health services across Victoria. Roles have included Lived experience practitioners, Case Managers, Community mental health practitioners, Psychiatric Nurses and Spiritual Care Workers.

The sessions were facilitated by Jennifer Greenham, Spiritual Health Association; James Godfrey, a Spiritual Care Coordinator from Forensicare; Justin Kuay, Consultant Psychiatrist at VTMH and Josie Tremain, Education & Service Development Consultant at VTMH. Each session of the program explored a different theme for reflection and discussion including:

  • Psychiatry and God — why are they such uncomfortable bedfellows?
  • I’m spiritual but not religious — what does this mean?
  • How to respond caringly to someone who believes they are Jesus, Mohammed or other revered sages
  • How to respond to a request for prayer
  • Recovery & Spiritual Care Values — are we talking about the same thing?
  • Spirituality discussion groups — what’s involved and could you facilitate one in your workplace?

These discussion groups invited practitioners to share their experiences and insights, and to unpack some of the unknowns surrounding spiritual and religious discussions in mental health settings. They allowed practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of how to explore conversations with mental health consumers about their diverse spiritual beliefs.

The program received a high level of interest from across the mental health sector and demand for places filled very quickly. Evaluation of the feedback and outcomes of the program is currently underway and will determine the next phase of this program in 2020.

Thank you to all the participants that have attended and contributed to this series of discussions throughout 2019.

Some comments from the feedback:

“It was respectful, open, inquisitive and invitational”

“Everyone allowing space, fascinating perspectives, broadening understanding”

“Open mind to spirituality, there is no wrong door to recovery”

You can keep in touch with VTMH through our website and by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Improving your Work with Interpreters

It’s the outcome of a two-year project conducted in three phases, including consultation with interpreters, mental health practitioners and senior managers, consumers and carers, consolidation and design based on a review of consultation advice and current literature, and resource development to produce new materials, update our online learning module and prepare a project report.

View images from the launch held on 28th October 2019

Approaching work with interpreters in mental health settings includes a tri-fold booklet, a series of videos and a practice tips poster. We also documented the work in a Project Report. Click here to download a copy of the report, and to find out how you can access all the resources. 

Forum Puts ‘Community’ at The Centre of Mental Health Practice

This year’s theme focused on making visible innovative approaches to support mental health that are having positive results. The forum featured programs that have been designed by communities, or delivered by community health and mental health services in collaboration with local communities.

People from a range of services, sectors and programs came along. We heard from dynamic speakers from diverse fields. If you missed the event, you can read more about the speakers here.

Keynote speakers

Kellie Loughron, traditional owner opened the day with a Welcome to Country and Melbourne broadcaster, Sally Warhaft, hosted the day. We also witnessed a moving musical performance by Jessie Lloyd, who sang from the Missions Song Project.

The day was a chance to step back and think about ‘big picture’ community. About our neighbourhoods and cities and the connections between groups, strengths and social problems. The message was clear; diversity is not the problem, disadvantage is (Rebecca Wickes).

We explored how we embody community, especially when facing traumatic events. Trauma takes us into and beyond ourselves, through processes of rupture and bonding (Robert Gordon).

Sessions

What does it look like to see a problem and be the change you want to see? We heard the story of Project Rockit, which has gone from strength to strength. It’s addressing the bullying and discrimination young people experience at schools and online (Lucy Thomas).

Community health centres, in inner city Melbourne and regional Victoria, have been reaching out to underserved more recently arrived communities. Their work is grounded in meaningful community engagement and co-design and they are getting results (Kaye Graves, Bich-Hoa Ha, Abdi Moalin).

Leaders of ethnic communities and faith communities gave us a glimpse into how they stand up for communities. They are keep conversations going, as volunteer broadcasters on community language radio and in professional community development roles (Matoc Mordecai Achol & Radhika Santhanam-Martin).

Leaders are getting comprehensive mentoring and support through a now well established program with stunning outcomes. People with lived experience are organising new initiatives around social change (Alex Mills).

Mental health and alcohol and other drug services are also coming to grips with what it looks like to put people, families and faith communities at the centre of recovery-oriented service delivery models and everyday practice (Rachael Barbara, Remzi Unal & Ulukile Masiyane).

We wrapped up the day by thinking community engagement and evaluation, mobilising knowledge and influencing decision makers (Susan McDonough). 

ABOVE: Images of MC, Sally Warhaft and Guest speakers and panel discussions.

What did people tell us they
found beneficial?

Having such as big range of speakers from very different
areas of mental health’ and

‘The diversity of topics, but common themes of being community centred’.

What did people say they will now
do differently?

‘Critical thinking – understanding more about the local community of where my organisation is and the social cohesion’ and

‘Incorporate understanding of the social sciences and understanding of culture and demographics when designing community mental health programs’.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants and to our event partner North Western Melbourne PHN.

Community Capacity Building Projects

The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), and Tandem would like to announce that funding from the Department of Health and Human Services is available for organisations and small groups in culturally and linguistically diverse communities for work relating to mental wellbeing and mental ill-health in those communities.

The program will run between 1 July and 31 December 2018. VMIAC and Tandem are co-ordinating the program on behalf of the Department. They are working in partnership with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health, and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria. The 2016-17 State Budget provided funding of $1.013 million over two years for the grants program. The program closes at 31 December 2018.

Applications are now welcome and will close on 28  July 2017.

Tandem and VMIAC are calling for a range of proposals that will build capacity to support the mental health needs of culturally and linguistically diverse people, which includes immigrant and refugee communities.

The program aims to assist those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, mental ill-health, their families and carers, and their wider community and aims to assist people of all ages within these communities, including those living in rural Victoria, to:

  • Identify and build protective factors (things that increase resilience) and reduce risk factors for mental ill-health and trauma that are culturally responsive and safe. These can be at the individual, family or community level.
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill-health (taking into account cultural understandings of mental ill-health).
  • Build capacity for: self-determination and management of a mental health condition; enhancing family and carer wellbeing; advocacy for individual and broader community needs; and understanding and navigating the mental health service system.
  • Better understand mental wellbeing, mental ill-health and the impacts of trauma (often called ‘mental health literacy’).

Proposals can request a contribution from the program of up to $80,000. 

Applications can be for smaller amounts.Non-governmental organisations, community organisations/groups, local government agencies, are welcome to apply. Applicants must possess the operational and financial ability to carry out the tasks that they propose.

Project applications that propose partnerships between community and other organisations, such as local government or NGOs, are welcomed. There can be multiple implementing partners and associates for a project.

VMIAC and Tandem are eager to ensure that these grants are accessible to all sections of Victoria’s community, and that no one is excluded by the difficulty of making a submission. For general enquiries, and assistance with applications, community members and organisations are welcome to be in contact before applying.

Please contact Neil Turton-Lane  at VMIAC on neil.turton-lane@vmiac.org.au or 9380 3900, or Anne Finch at Tandem on anne.finch@tandemcarers.org.au  or 8803 5511 for further information.

Submissions are now open. Guidelines and the application form are available at: tandemcarers.org.au/cald-grants

Our Voices

Stories of Carers from Refugee and Migrant Backgrounds.

Each narrative is told in the carer’s original language, and has been subtitled in English. Each narrative has also been voice dubbed into the five community languages, Arabic, Vietnamese, Turkish, Dari and Somali, and these videos are available on DVD from Victorian Transcultural Mental Health. 

Click on the images below to watch each narrative in its original language and subtitled in English.

The films explore the lives of five carers from Afghani, Egyptian, Somali, Turkish and Vietnamese communities. The carers speak independently, yet collectively, of common difficulties encountered in advocating for culturally sensitive and culturally-responsive mental health care and the benefits of seeking support.  The stories of the carers have been uniquely captured via the collaboration and support of many leading mental health, carer and multi-cultural organisations (see these below) and produced by the Australian film house, Digital Black. 

VTMH would like to thank all the individual storytellers, their families and friends, the film-makers, Digital Black, support workers and everyone who contributed to the making of this extraordinary project. The participants and organisers hope it encourages people to seek support and to share their experiences.

Mr Ly

Mr Ly

Mr Ly came to Australia by boat in 1980. He and his wife have been caring for their son full time since 2001 with the help of a Vietnamese carer support group. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

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Kevser

Kevser

Kevser has been the primary carer for her daughter for many years. Joining a carer support group gave her the courage to negotiate the stigma attached to her daughter’s illness. Turkish with English subtitles.

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Amina

Amina

Amina’s brother was diagnosed with a mental illness soon after arriving in Australia. Amina is a social worker, works with her community and explores negative perceptions about mental illness. Somali with English subtitles.

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Said

Said

Said is an engineer and an accredited interpreter. He works as carer consultant and is passionate about advocating for the needs of carers. Arabic with English subtitles.

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Arefa

Arefa

Arefa is from Afghanistan and talks about her experience in caring for her father was diagnosed with anxiety/depression. Dari with English subtitles.

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Ordering a copy of the DVD

A limited number of hard copies of the DVDs were produced to coincide with the launch of this resource in October 2014. Hard copies of the DVD series, complete with an information kit about the project, can be requested. Expressions of interest will also help identify demand and potential for pursuing options for further print runs. You can register your interest in ordering hard copy of the DVDs by clicking the button below.

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Finding Our Way

Inspiring stories of people living with emotional and mental health issues.

These were created during a four-day workshop in 2014 led by film-makers, practitioners and researchers. Each storyteller wrote, voiced, created and edited their own film.   

The storytellers are from culturally diverse backgrounds. They decided that ‘Finding our way’ captured the collective message of the stories. 

The project and the stories are discussed in these texts:

McDonough, S. & Colucci, E. (2021). People of immigrant and refugee background sharing experiences of mental health recovery: reflections and recommendations on using digital storytellingVisual Communication, 20(1), 134-156. DOI:10.1177/1470357218820651.

Colucci, E. & McDonough, S. (2020). Recovering from mental illness and suicidal behaviour in a culturally diverse context: The use of digital storytelling. In V. Lo, C. Berry, G. Liping (Eds.), Film and the Chinese medical humanities. London UK: Routledge. [Open access]

Dear Self, Akeemi

Dear Self, Akeemi

Childhood memories, moving to a new country, feelings of isolation and efforts to connect are among the experiences that inspired Akeemi’s healing “letter to self”, with original drawings and paintings.

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My Faith, My Anchor, Chandima

My Faith, My Anchor, Chandima

Chandima’s story is about migration from Sri Lanka, faith in God and her family: inspirations for personal recovery and the desire to help others.

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Doe Doh’s Story, 
Doe Doh

Doe Doh’s Story, 
Doe Doh

A harsh childhood lived on the Thai-Burma border, yearning for freedom and seizing the possibilities of ‘now’. Karen with English subtitles.

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Psychiatric Superhero, James

Psychiatric Superhero, James

The author voices scenes from his graphic novel about a light warrior’s deep inner struggles and his resolve to overcome them.

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Spreading Joy, Kim

Spreading Joy, Kim

Origami, laughter, good food, kindness: Kim’s ingredients for a fulfilled life and taking a positive approach to recovery. Mandarin with English subtitles.

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Linh’s Story, Linh

Linh’s Story, Linh

Linh discusses overcoming severe mental illness with the help of her loving family, feeling welcome in new country and going on holidays. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

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The Visual Conductor, Maria

The Visual Conductor, Maria

A story about family expectations, taking charge and staying well involving art, personal goals and play.

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Becoming, Nevena

Becoming, Nevena

From civil war, loss and uncertainty to safety: a refugee’s unfolding story. A lifelong journey toward happiness and inner peace.

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I am Colours, Tuan

I am Colours, Tuan

“Colours within me connect me to colours around me.” Tuan sews beautiful hand-­made objects and uses his keen sense of colour to connect with other people and the world around him.

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About these stories

Who owns these stories? 
Each digital story is original, owned by its creator and was made to be shared. The storytellers have licensed ACMI, and sublicensed VTMH (and other agencies named as MHiMA consortium members in 2014) to distribute these stories. We welcome agencies and individuals linking to this webpage, however, the videos should not be uploaded to websites without seeking additional permission.

Can we use these videos for education purposes? 
Yes. The stories may be used for study, teaching or training purposes subject to an acknowledgement of the source. For monitoring and evaluation purposes, please let VTMH know when you use the material in training or add a link to your website. Enquiries concerning reproduction and rights for purposes other than those indicated above should be addressed to VTMH. 

Why won’t the videos play on my computer?  
The videos will play using most internet browsers but you may experience difficulties, beyond VTMH’s control, if you use an old browser version.  

Acknowledgements
Each digital story is original and owned by its creator. The project was created and developed by two member agencies of the Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) project — Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH), St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne and the Centre for International Mental Health (CIMH) at the University of Melbourne — in conjunction with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Project coordination for MHiMA by Erminia Colucci & Susan McDonough. Presented by the Digital Story-telling Program of ACMI, 2014.

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Thank you

Thank you to all the individual storytellers, their families and friends, the film-makers, support workers and everyone else who helped in the telling of these stories. The participants and or­ganisers hope these stories encourage others to share their experiences.