NSW Mental Health Commission staff with members of the Vietnamese Elderly Friendship Association. 

Commission staff with members of the Vietnamese Elderly Friendship Association. 

24 November 2017

The NSW Mental Health Commission visited south west Sydney this week to listen and talk with the Vietnamese-speaking community about how to better support their mental health and wellbeing.

The visit was led by NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey and included meetings with Vietnamese families and carers, support services and workers including the Vietnamese Workers Interagency group, and local community initiatives such as the Vietnamese Elderly Friendship Association in Canley Vale.

Ms Lourey said the visit was one of a series of outreach activities with different cultural groups in NSW which aimed to improve access to help and support and to overcome barriers.

“Over the course of our two day visit we met so many resourceful and passionate people who are making a huge positive difference with the community,” Ms Lourey said.

“On the wellbeing end of the spectrum, we were so impressed by the Vietnamese Elderly Friendship Association, which provides its members the social connection and sense of purpose vital for maintaining good mental health. It’s exactly the kind of initiative we want to see more of in every community.

“We also consulted with dozens of clinicians and services that care for people who are mentally ill to find out more about what is working well and where the challenges lie.”

Ms Lourey said that unwillingness to talk about mental health issues and fear of social shame often left families with unwell loved ones feeling lonely and isolated.

“People told us they want more support and more education, so they can recognise the signs and symptoms more easily and know how to access services.

“They also told us that having more information in their language would help tackle some of the stigma about mental illness that exists in the Vietnamese community.”

The Commission will utilise the information to inform future communications campaigns for NSW’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities. It will also feed the information back to South Western Sydney Local Health District and the NSW Government, which oversees NSW’s public mental health system. 

Any community members who are concerned about their own or a loved one’s mental health are encouraged to speak with trusted support services such as a family GP or school counsellor.

Alternatively, find local services via Wayahead’s NSW Mental Health Service Directory  or call one of the following support lines:

NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

To see photos of the Community visit, visit our gallery page

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Last updated: 30 November 2017