Seeing past stigma to help Drug Health clients think clearly

Drug Health Services clinical neuropsychologist Vivian Leung.

A passion for understanding how our minds work inspires clinical neuropsychologist Vivian Leung to help people suffering from the cognitive effects of substance use.

Neuropsychology is one of the many branches of psychology, with a focus on cognition and cognitive rehabilitation rather than therapy.

Vivian sees people experiencing issues with their memory and thinking, including the ability to understand, organise and recall information, and plan ahead.

Her role within Western Sydney Local Health District is with the Drug Health Service, so her clients often come from difficult backgrounds and have complex psychosocial issues.

“My role is really to help people understand themselves and their current functioning, to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and give them tools to help in everyday life,” Vivian said.

“Just to have a neuropsychological assessment is really helpful for people, and can be the next step toward them accessing the help they need through the National Disability Insurance Scheme or a Disability Support Pension.

“So this is a place where you can really help people and advocate for them.”

Vivian studied psychology and education, but her fascination for understanding how people work led her to specialise in neuropsychology.

Vivian said stigma can make it more difficult for her clients to access services.

“Substance use can be just one aspect of a person and the difficulties they face, such as their mental health, housing situation, and a lack of support,” she said.

“There is also the psychological element of shame, embarrassment, stress and anxiety that comes with cognitive issues. I want to help people understand their own minds and put them in a better place to understand and remember the things they need to know.”

The Drug Health Service provides treatment and support for those affected by substance use in Western Sydney. Anyone wishing to access this service or find out more can call the Drug Health Central Intake Line on 8860 2565.

This Mental Health Month, tune into stigma by considering the misconceptions, prejudice or barriers that you or others face regarding mental health and wellbeing.

Help is always available if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue:

In an emergency, please call triple zero (000).