Author: vtmh

Did you catch our September webinar, ‘Community voices: Cultural safety in the times of COVID-19?’

The pandemic has cast a light on the many unaddressed systemic issues affecting for communities living in public housing in inner city Melbourne. This session discussed the mental health implications, innovative community-led responses and the kinds of action government and services still need to take, with communities as partners.

The webinar featured respected therapists, community volunteers and advocates. It was collaboratively developed with the panelists and facilitated by VTMH’s Shehani De Silva.

Links to community projects, background reading plus a recording of the session are now available.

Follow this link for event information and to watch the video

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – Transcultural perspectives

In May 2020, members of the well established VTMH Reference Group met with Chair of the Royal Commission  Penny Armytage and Commissioner Dr Alex Cockram. This was chance to advocate for a fairer and more just service system. Being more inclusive will be key. 

Firstly, we heard many voices. We listened to people with lived experience and leaders in education and research. Consumer and carer  advocates, community organisations and mental health and multicultural services also spoke.

Secondly, we explored three themes: engaging communities, consumers and carers; workforce development; and governance, data collection and research.   

Finally, we talked about solutions. About ways to create a more culturally safe, responsive mental health service system.

Keep reading to learn more about VTMH and the Commission.   

Webinars – cultural safety in the time of COVID-19

Each session involves an open conversation with a panel members and opportunities to participate via Q & A.

We’ve been sharing practice ideas and discussing rights, equity and power during the current pandemic. We are planning each session based on emerging themes and feedback.

Our focus in April was ‘What we are learning’. We followed up in May with the ‘Challenges of interpreting’ . The July session discussed ‘Using telehealth’. You will also find links to resources discussed in each of these sessions. A recording and transcript is also available for ‘Community voices’, held in September.   

Seminars – a platform for trailblazers

We know that seminars at VTMH are a well-known fixture. A place to hear first-hand from advocates, researchers and practitioners. Thanks to committed speakers and audiences, we’re continuing via Zoom.  

We started off in May with Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath, Director of Social Gerontology at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI). She presented on ‘Considerations for a population-level response to age, culture and COVID-19’.

Leaders in mental health interpreter education, Dr Shani Tobias, Dr Lola Sundin, Dr Jim Hlavac from Monash University led the July session on ‘Professional Development for Interpreters and Mental Health Clinicians – Recent Developments’. The August session featured Matt Ball. Matt is a leading innovator in mental health practice and spoke on alternative approaches to psychotherapy. 

Dr Charishma Ratnam at the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre will join us on Wed 21 October, to speak about using technology to communicate and engage with diverse communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Partnership with cohealth

During this time, we have been able to successfully continue with our partnership work with cohealth. In late May, we facilitated two online Reflective Consultation Sessions with mental health teams from cohealth’s Western Psychosocial Support Services and Youth Residential Rehabilitation Services. Workers from both services were asked to reflect on their capacity to address diversity and enhance their own cultural responsiveness. The sessions generated enthusiastic discussion around opportunities to in-bed inclusive and culturally sensitive practices within their services. The teams will use this rich information to develop a service-specific cultural responsiveness plan to address the main issues that were identified. This will include both short term and longer-term goals and actions and will take into consideration their unique needs, capacity and other factors. 

We look forward to working with these services to implement some of their ideas and to support their work in this important area of mental health service delivery. 

We are hoping to plan more Reflective Consultation Sessions with other cohealth mental health teams in the coming months. 

Statement in support of equality, inclusion and diversity.

Information about human rights and ways to deal with racism can be found at Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. Resources are available in many community languages.

In partnership with the communities we serve, we remain committed to inclusion and diversity. In the way we work with practitioners, teams, organisations and communities. And by advocating for a more socially just and equitable mental health service system.   

Join a community of people passionate about mental health and cultural diversity practice

The Community of Practice (CoP) in Cultural Diversity and Mental Health is a space for practitioners to meet, learn, share practice wisdom with peers, and challenge their thinking. 

So far, members of the CoP have met twice since an inaugural planning meeting in February. Their collective ideas are informing the activities that we’re exploring throughout the year.  

We’ve been using podcasts, facilitated reflective discussions and presentations to explore implicit bias, systemic racism and explanatory models in mental health practice.   

‘Thanks so much for facilitating the meeting today. It was fantastic – great discussion and excellent material presented to initiate this supported discussion!’ Laura, Senior Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist. 

People from a range of sectors are eligible to join. Current members include people based in clinical and community mental health services, schools, universities, community health and multicultural services. 

While for now, all meetings will be delivered using virtual platforms, the CoP was designed to include both face-to-face and virtual meetings. The community also has its own social network site that supports other activities and information sharing.  

New member registrations are currently open. If you would like to be part of this new initiative, please read the Terms of Reference and follow the prompts to register.

Foundations of culturally responsive practice – latest blended learning approach

Staff from STAR Health recently explored VTMH’s Orientation to Cultural Responsiveness, a self-paced learning module, attended a live zoom session, and will soon use small group reflective sessions to discuss core concepts and themes and explore areas that they want to consider in more depth.  

We’re excited about the possibilities of this new approach, for our ongoing work with STAR Health and beyond. An evaluation is currently underway. 

Talking about spirituality and diversity

These sessions support practitioners to deepen their understanding of ways to explore diverse spiritual beliefs in conversation with mental health consumers. 

Once again, we responded to current circumstances, and took the project online. Participants have enjoyed the flexibility. Attendance have increased and so has our reach. VTMH has been reflecting on what’s been learnt so far and are preparing to run another series later this year.