People living in Australia who speak a language other than English (LOTE speakers) sometimes need access to mental health support services in their own language. SBS has compiled some of the available services to help individuals in Australian migrant communities facing challenging times and in need of mental health support in their own language.
There’s a wide range of situations where this is needed, from suffering mental health challenges triggered by coronavirus, to depression and anxiety, to mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, personality disorders or psychosis.
Services are available in a variety of languages across the country, and mostly managed at a state level.
In most cases, these organisations don’t have their own interpreters, so they use the national federal government-funded service, Translating and Interpreting Service - TIS https://www.tisnational.gov.au, which provides access to phone and on-site interpreting services in over 150 languages.
At a national level, Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) provides information in some languages: https://embracementalhealth.org.au/community/multilingual-information This Federal Department of Health initiative has ceased operating in the field, but the website is still accessible and includes links to translated archived information, including mental health assessment tools.
The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) is a network of Australia’s eight specialist rehabilitation agencies that work with survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia from overseas. Most clients of FASSTT agencies came to Australia as refugees or as humanitarian entrants. There is one FASSTT member agency in each state and territory of Australia: https://www.fasstt.org.au/members/
Non-government national mental help Lifelines and services
- Lifeline - 13 11 14
- Mission Australia - https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/
- Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
- Headspace - https://headspace.org.au/
- Suicide Call Back Service - www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au 1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
- MensLine Australia - 1300 78 99 78
New South Wales
NSW Mental Health Line
The Mental Health Line is available to everyone in NSW and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 511 https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/Pages/Mental-Health-Line.aspx
Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC)
This state-wide service promotes access to mental health services for people of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, provides clinical consultation and assessment, mental health promotion, develops resources and provides education and training. https://www.dhi.health.nsw.gov.au/transcultural-mental-health-centre
TMHC provides free services using bilingual clinicians for individuals and families who are connected with a NSW Health mental health service. A referral from the local mental health team is required to access the service. Interpreting from TIS is available https://www.tisnational.gov.au/ for languages not spoken by TMHC staff.
Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, STARTTS
STARTTS provides culturally relevant psychological treatment and support, plus community interventions to help people and communities heal the scars of refugee trauma, rebuilding their lives in Australia. https://www.startts.org.au/
Interpreting from TIS is available https://www.tisnational.gov.au/ for languages not spoken by STARTTS staff.
Foundation House for Survivors of Torture
This organisation offers free services for refugees or people from refugee-like background in English, Arabic, Burmese, Hakha Chin, Dari, Dinka, Karen, Persian, Swahili, Tamil and Tigrinya. https://foundationhouse.org.au/for-clients/client-services/
Find out whether you meet the criteria to access these services here: https://foundationhouse.org.au/for-clients/make-a-referral/
Interpreting from TIS is available https://www.tisnational.gov.au/ for languages not spoken by their staff.
Victoria also has a directory of mental health information in different languages. It is an initiative of the Victorian government and run by the Centre for Culture, providing easy access to an extensive collection of translated health information: https://www.healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/
Two more Victorian organisations offer training in mental health, but don’t provide direct support to individuals:
Action on Disability in Ethnic Communities (ADEC)
ADEC includes a Transcultural Mental Health Access Program (TMHAP) to improve access to mental health services for people from multicultural backgrounds. They work with ethnic communities to raise awareness about mental health problems and ways to access mental health and carer services.
They also assist mental health services with developing culturally responsive models and strategies for engaging ethnic communities http://www.adec.org.au/index.php/programs/mental-health
Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH)
Formerly known as the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit (VTPU), the VTMH is a Victorian unit supporting clinical mental health services and psychiatric disability support services for professionals working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) consumers and carers.
It includes an enquiry service for practitioners, service and community development, education, consumer and carer participation programs but no services directly for individuals: http://www.vtmh.org.au/
Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre (QTMHC)
The QTMHC is a specialist state-wide service that works to ensure people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds receive culturally responsive mental health care and support.
It provides translated information: https://metrosouth.health.qld.gov.au/qtmhc/translated-information as well as access to professionals, through local mental health coordinators: https://metrosouth.health.qld.gov.au/qtmhc/programs-and-services/multicultural-mental-health-coordinator-program
Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
The QPASTT provides flexible and culturally sensitive services to promote the health and well being of people who have been tortured or who have suffered refugee related trauma prior to migrating to Australia.
They provide free psychological and social support to survivors, including counselling: https://qpastt.org.au/
World Wellness Group
The Brisbane-based World Wellness Group includes a series of programs for CALD communities:
- The Multicultural Psychological Therapies program: delivered to people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in Brisbane North and South regions. They offer culturally safe and sensitive structured psychological interventions for people with mild to moderate mental illness: https://worldwellnessgroup.org.au/multicultural-psychological-therapies-program/
- Refugee and asylum seeker health: provides culturally safe, holistic, family centred and integrated care to vulnerable people to reduce long term health inequity: https://worldwellnessgroup.org.au/refugee-asylum-seeker-health/
- Health services for international students: as specialists in healthcare for people from culturally diverse backgrounds, it can be used by international students with an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), who come from different cultural backgrounds: https://worldwellnessgroup.org.au/international-students-services/
- Culture In Mind is a community-based program that provides psycho-social support to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people of 18+ years of age, living in the Greater Brisbane region. https://worldwellnessgroup.org.au/culture-in-mind/
Harmony Place is a non-government community-based multicultural organisation that provides culturally sensitive mental health services for people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) back-grounds. They work with people over 12 years of age including migrants and their children, refugees, asylum seekers, skilled migrants and their spouses. They operate throughout Queensland, with particular emphasis on the culturally diverse Southeast Queensland regions of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich and Gold Coast. http://harmonyplace.org.au/
Mental health line
1300 MH CALL (1300 642255) is a confidential mental health telephone service for Queenslanders that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services.
Interpreting from TIS is available https://www.tisnational.gov.au/
MHACA (Central Australia)
MHACA services are available for people over the age of 18 years old with a diagnosed mental health condition. Interpreter services are available by appointment and the staff includes Chinese, Urdu, Irish and Hindi speakers: https://mhaca.org.au/
TeamHealth provides services and support to the local population of the NT who have a mental health concern or are vulnerable and disadvantaged: https://www.teamhealth.asn.au/ Interpreting from TIS is available. The website has an automatic translation service into more than 80 languages: https://www.tisnational.gov.au/
Melaleuca Refugee Centre
This not-for-profit organisation provides dignifying person-centred humanitarian services to individuals and families from refugee and migrant backgrounds. They provide free services for families, adults, children and youth: http://www.melaleuca.org.au/
The Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition (NTMHC)
The NTMHC is the peak body for community managed mental health services across the Northern Territory https://www.ntmhc.org.au/
Northern Territory Mental Health Line: 1800 682 288
State mental health services can be accessed through the Mental Health Helpline and these services use interpreting services when needed: https://www.tisnational.gov.au/
Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS)
ASeTTS Provides holistic services to assist refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives, with services in Arabic Dinka, Caren and Kirundi languages. https://asetts.org.au/our-services/counselling/
West Australian Transcultural Mental Health Centre
This service is available only inside the Royal Perth Hospital and for three sessions after patients are discharged. Translators are available either in person or over the phone: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services/20072382/west-australian-transcultural-mental-health-centre/services/perth-6000-50-murray-street
The Phoenix Centre operates within the Migrant Resource Centre and offers specialist services for survivors of torture and trauma. It delivers counselling and a wide range of training and projects which support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. The Phoenix Centre has staff based in Hobart and Launceston and provides services statewide: https://mrctas.org.au/phoenix-centre/
The Tasmanian government mental health services provide care for residents with severe mental health conditions in inpatient facilities and in the community, directly by government clinics or through mainstream health care providers, private specialists and facilities as well as GPs.
For information on how to access to Mental Health Services go to: http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/mentalhealth/mhs_tas The assessment and referral call helpline is 1800 332 388
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Companion House, Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma
Providing counselling services and assisted by support workers to work with asylum seekers and refugees, Companion House aims to help people to rebuild their lives in Australia, manage difficult life situations, and process the effects of past trauma.
Counsellors work with both newly arrived people and longer term settlers and have specialists to work with adults, children and young people: http://www.companionhouse.org.au/
The ACT government has a mental health crisis service that can be accessed over the phone (1800 629 354 or 02 6205 1065) or through this website: https://www.health.act.gov.au/services-and-programs/mental-health/getting-help
The Personal Education and Community Empowerment (PEACE) service is focused on serving multicultural communities from CALD backgrounds. Regardless of their visa status, PEACE provides services that help individuals, families and communities: https://www.rasa.org.au/services/couples-families/peace-multicultural-services/
Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service, STTARS
STTARS is a specialised service offering counselling for people from refugee and refugee-like backgrounds to support them in their recovery and healing process. Services are free of charge and may be accessed no matter how long a person has been in Australia. There is a waiting list for STTARS services, but it is managed in a triage fashion, and those with the highest needs are given priority.
STTARS’ service is free, voluntary, confidential, and conducted with qualified counsellors and interpreters.
They have further programs specialised for children and young people, families and asylum seekers: https://www.sttars.org.au/
- People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Find out what restrictions are in place for your state or territory: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/how-australia-s-states-and-territories-are-relaxing-coronavirus-restrictions
- Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
- The Federal Government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.
- SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus