While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Australians, people from multicultural communities experienced additional barriers.
These hurdles include lack of language literacy to understand health messages and being unable to attend family emergencies from their country of origin.
This has resulted in a significant rise of desperation, anxiety and depression.
Multicultural Health services have been working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities throughout the pandemic to ensure mental health support, easy access to COVID-19 information, and other available services.
Youth program officer Daniel Apat said the Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Multicultural Health team tailored a culturally appropriate system to target the most vulnerable.
“The process of resettlement which migrants and refugees undergo can impact their mental health greatly. Young people and women are in the high-risk category,” he said.
“It is important for us to raise awareness that help is available and reduce the stigma and shame around seeking mental health assistance.”
Daniel arrived in Australia as a young person and received help through General Practitioner (GP) and other health services. He now works with a young multicultural population to provide health-related mentoring including mental health and suicide prevention.
“Successful settlement involves looking after one’s mental health. Seeking help is a life-saving skill, not only for people for CALD communities but for everyone,” he said.
Daniel partnered with Community Migrant Resource Centre, SydWest Multicultural Services, Accessible Diversity Services Initiative Limited and Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency (MECA) to organise an online forum “Multicultural Youth Hello Doctor”.
The forum, under the theme of “Access”, involved young participants discussing the importance of looking after their mental wellbeing. It included guided meditation and practical tips on accessing health services.
Women and new parents have also been identified as a vulnerable group. Every year one in seven mums and one in 10 dads are diagnosed with perinatal anxiety or depression.
Dari bilingual health worker and registered midwife Amina Hadi works with Dari/Farsi speaking communities to raise awareness about anxiety and depression. She said the number of parents undiagnosed or unaware of the illness could be even greater.
“It can be challenging for women from CALD communities to identify worrying signals and seek professional help, just because such services don’t exist in their countries of origin,” Amina said.
“We educate our communities about paying closer attention to their health and accessing appropriate health services. With COVID-19, we have gone virtual and started delivering online training.
“The multidisciplinary team in Auburn Hospital consists of midwives, obstetricians, endocrinologists, diabetic educators and ultra-sonographers. We facilitate a safe transition to motherhood, follow up with patients and provide continuity of care.”
To access these free resources on women’s’ health in different languages, visit Family planning NSW website.
To access NSW COVID-19 resources for multicultural communities please visit www.multicultural.nsw.gov.au.