The New Roots project promoted good mental health of males recently settled in Australia through a humanitarian visa from the Arabic, Farsi-Dari and Tamil speaking communities.
Settling in a new country, and adapting to a new culture, is one of the most significant life transitions anybody can experience, particularly for those coming from a conflict zone.
Those arriving in Australia on a humanitarian visa almost universally have a history of exposure to highly traumatic events that impact mental health, including war, loss of loved ones, and human rights abuses, along with periods of deprivation and separation from family.
Prolonged periods in refugee camps, detention centres and on dangerous journeys can also diminish mental health. The most common mental health conditions experienced by refugees and asylum seekers include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The many challenges of resettlement can further impact people’s mental health including: the settlement determination process; bereavement; ongoing anxiety about the safety of, and separation from, family members and friends left behind; cultural dislocation and family tension; financial disadvantage; social isolation and lack of family support; and sometimes discrimination and racism.
Operating between July 2014 and December 2016, the New Roots project developed three outputs: a smartphone application for the community, an online toolkit for case managers, and a community leader training package.
Following a public launch in December 2015, the pilot project operated in NSW through to December 2016 and was independently evaluated by the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia.
The evaluation found that both the New Roots App and Toolkit have been well received and have had high levels of usage. Qualitative data also identifies a positive response to the New Roots App with increases in knowledge and positive changes in behaviour among SSI clients.
Given the progress of the New Roots project towards meeting the identified short-term and medium-term outcomes, it has the potential to contribute to the social and emotional wellbeing of the target population in the future.
Further information on the New Roots project is available from our project partners at: www.ssi.org.au/resources/new-roots