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Kate Hoppe/Manager, Marketing, Communications & Strategic Projects
2 mins read·June 30th, 2015

Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs Chinese Focused MHPN has gone from strength to strength since starting in 2013

Since starting two years ago, Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs Chinese Focused MHPN has gone from strength to strength, meeting quarterly to discuss rich and diverse issues with a special focus on supporting the growing Chinese population, not just in the Eastern region but also in the Northern and Southern regions.

MHPN supports nine other networks with a special interest in culturally and linguistically diverse issues. See what’s available in your area.

Inclusive and working toward destigmatising mental illness in the Chinese community

With an average of 15 professionals attending each meeting, this network includes social workers, counsellors, general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health nurses. As an open network, it aims to promote not only the sharing of professional knowledge to facilitate better outcomes for clients, but also to destigmatise mental illness in the Chinese community.

The network is coordinated by Maria Yap, a former mental health clinician, who currently manages two Commonwealth funded initiatives: the Alcohol and other Drug (AOD)/Mental Health capacity building project at MonashLink Community Health Service, and the Inner East Partners in Recovery (IEPIR) Program led by the Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local. The MonashLink project involves the establishment of a Chinese AOD Counselling Service while the IEPIR Program has Chinese speaking Support Facilitators and project workers that reach out to people with severe and persistent mental illness and their families and carers.

Issues discussed are varied and topical

Topics discussed in the past year included:

  • Managing serious and persistent mental illness in people of Chinese background
  • Applicability of ‘Small Figures Work’ in Counselling Chinese clients
  • Mental health issues in the Chinese community: views from two spiritual leaders
  • Family violence in the Chinese speaking community: Hong Kong and Melbourne experience

Members attend because of the tangible benefits

Members have said:

  • It is an opportunity to meet professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. The topics presented were relevant to my work.
  • This is the meeting where we can share our knowledge and expertise. It is also good to liaise and build up networking for future referrals.
  • It is a highly valued opportunity for information exchange and is socially enjoyable too.
  • This networking activity allows the exchange of experiences, exploration of existing systemic problems, brainstorming,  familiarisation of different areas of work, as well as a way for us to support each other.
  • This network expands our referral base and professional resources. It allows us to collaborate with colleagues to destigmatise mental illness and improve services to Chinese individuals and families.
  • The meetings develop cross-cultural awareness. As a counsellor in private practice, I have limited exposure in working with CALD communities so this is a great way to learn about what’s best practice in this field.

According to Maria, “This is a lively and engaged group of professionals working in the mental health sector and we would welcome the participation of more local general practitioners. Although the topics are Chinese focused, the meetings are always in English.”

June’s meeting had more than 20 participants and saw Professor Daniel Wong lead a discussion by asking whether Chinese Carers are different from any other carers.

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The Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) respectfully acknowledges the Wurundjeri and the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which our office is situated. We also acknowledge Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.