Victoria’s most culturally diverse region – Greater Dandenong – is to receive its own mental health program designed by beyondblue.
The City of Greater Dandenong has the highest rate of psychological and socio-economic distress in the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN) region, along with high unemployment rates, housing distress and financial insecurity.
About 60 per cent of Greater Dandenong residents were born overseas – mostly in non-English speaking countries – and the area is home to almost 30 per cent of Victoria’s asylum seekers.
SEMPHN has identified past traumatic experiences, language barriers, visa uncertainty and disconnection from family as particular mental health risks for refugees and asylum seekers.
beyondblue has launched beyondblueConnect, a new mental health peer support program that is free, informal and available to adults with early and emerging signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
beyondblueConnect – developed with local community service groups – is available to people of all cultural backgrounds and is funded by the Commonwealth Government through the SEMPHN.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the program was about giving people new skills and empowering them before they hit a mental health crisis.
“The pressure on migrants trying to build a new life for their families in a new country, sometimes without any family support, often takes a huge toll on their mental health.
“Having someone to talk to, a mentor who has been through similar challenges, can make the world of difference to someone trying to find a job in a new country or for someone with depression.”
SEMPHN CEO Elizabeth Deveny said beyondblueConnect was an innovative approach to improving primary mental health care for Greater Dandenong residents.
- It’s a free program for people of all cultural backgrounds with early and emerging signs and symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
- The program is accessible in person, by phone or online and it will be led by trained mentors from diverse backgrounds who have personal experience of mental health conditions.
- Participants can attend up to eight private or group sessions