A visit from the Mental Health Commission

On Wednesday, 12 June 2019, the Mental Health Commission joined the Western Sydney Recovery College staff, educators and students for an afternoon tea. The Mental Health Commissioner, Catherine Lourey, and her team visited our venue in Auburn after the workshop, Effective Communication Skills, which was delivered in Arabic by our two bilingual educators, Adla and Abbey.

After the workshop, Adla and Abbey facilitated and translated an informal discussion with the MHC visitors about how Recovery College workshops have been benefiting the Arabic-speaking community members who have been attending. The students were only too happy to speak with the Commission about their experiences.

The students spoke about the difficulty of discussing mental health concerns within their cultural background. For migrants who may already be feeling isolated from family and culture, experiencing mental health concerns often results in their family being ostracised from their community, an additional cultural aspect to the broader issue of mental health stigma.

Attending Recovery College workshops meant that students could learn more about mental health, share what they had learned with other family members, and talk freely in a safe space with others about their experiences—an aspect that they said was vital for their wellbeing. An interesting side-benefit of the workshops was that the content and workbooks provided in Arabic and English were helping the students to learn and work on their English.

The MHC are considering completing a case study with our students from the Auburn area. We look forward to taking part and sharing the findings.