The National Mental Health Commission has translated its top ten mental health tips on how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic into five languages in order to support members of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The advice, introduced under the commission’s #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign, have been translated from English into Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Hindi, and are being shared on social media this week.
Developed in collaboration with more 20 mental health and social service organisations, the government agency’s campaign acknowledges the stressors and difficulties of the COVID-19 crisis and provides practical tips to help support better mental health and wellbeing.
The messaging encourages those struggling to reach out for help and also suggests changing certain habits to prevent mental health issues from arising or becoming worse.
The campaign’s 10 key points are:
- Choose me time over screen time.
- Caring for yourself helps you care for others.
- Financial stress is real stress. Seek free support today.
- It’s better not to bottle up your feelings. Take steps to change your drinking habits.
- Make a routine that works for you.
- There is no place for domestic or family violence. Help is here.
- Help is available if you reach out.
- Your support can make a difference.
- Play your part. Feel good by doing good.
- Make a break a regular thing.
CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, Christine Morgan, told SBS News: “We recognise that this is something that needs to reach every Australian, so we need to make sure that it’s accessible for everybody”.
Ms Morgan said during the six months since the pandemic began there has been a large increase in the number of people seeking mental health assistance.
“Our support lines, they are continuing to trend 30 to 35 per cent higher than this time last year,” she said. “That’s really significant. There has also been an eight per cent increase in Medicare mental health services overall.”
“The reality of the longevity of COVID-19 and its uncertainty has set in, and along with it comes fatigue and frustration as some jurisdictions are forced to return to, or canvas, increased restrictions.”
Ms Morgan added that when we know from experience how difficult something is, it is usually harder to experience it a second time, particularly in young people and the vulnerable.
For 19-year-old western Sydney man Sina Aghamofid, whose family is originally from Iran, COVID-19 has redefined his perception of what a normal life should be. It has left him concerned about whether life will ever return back to the way it was.
“It’s the anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of what the future is going to look like,” he said.
“When [COVID-19] first started it was expected to be a short-term thing. No one expected it to go on as long as it has. Now it has become the new kind of normal.
“It changes everything that we’ve been told, everything as a young person that I’ve been looking forward to. It’s just put everything in shambles.”
Mr Aghamofid is practising some of the mental health tips highlighted in the #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign to help manage stress and anxiety.
“With uni and work, I had a routine, I knew what I was doing and I knew where I had to be,” he said.
“With COVID, it’s hard, but I find that a little structure in my day helps, so I try to plan activities that don’t involve screen time, like cooking.”
The National Mental Health Commission said those most at risk of suffering mental health stresses include women and children who are living in unsafe homes and people experiencing family and domestic violence.
“People struggling with financial stress and distress due to unemployment, young people, especially those who are undertaking Year 12 and are at university,” are also at risk, the commission said.
Additionally, “women who shouldered a large share of the household burden during the first lockdown and are facing it once again” also need extra support “and people who are already vulnerable, living by themselves or have been dislocated from their community and support”.
Mr Aghamofid and his family speak Farsi, which is not one of the languages included in the campaign.
Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese, which are included in the campaign, were the four most common languages spoken in Australian homes after English in the 2016 census.
They were followed by Italian and Greek, which are not included in the campaign, and Hindi, which is.
Governments have been criticised during the coronavirus pandemic for not making important health material available about COVID-19 available in other languages.
In June, the NSW government was criticised after official pandemic material in languages other than English was not disseminated effectively, and this month basic language errors were uncovered in both Victorian and federal government COVID-19 messaging.
NSW Health previously said it made “every effort to ensure rapid and comprehensive information was provided to multicultural communities” from the start of the pandemic, and the Victorian government announced this month it would spend $14.3 million to better support multicultural communities through the crisis.
SBS also provides news and information about COVID-19 in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au and lifeline.org.au.
Embrace Multicultural Mental Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.