Marketplace of Mental Health
Last week WayAhead, in partnership with Willoughby City Council and the Australian Chinese Psychological Association, held a Mental Health Expo in Chatswood Mall. It was an opportunity for the Chatswood community to meet with mental health and community service providers. Over 20 organisations took part with a stall including headspace, Partners in Recovery, First Light Care and the Australian Chinese Psychological Association. The NSW Mental Health Commission’s ‘Check Up from the Neck Up’ provided the opportunity for visitors to have a quick psychological assessment by an English speaking or bilingual psychologist.
Engaging the Whole Community
The Expo was mindful of the many Mandarin speakers in the community and particularly aimed to engage them. Throughout the day there was several Tai Chi workshops, Tea Ceremonies, Stilt walkers, traditional Chinese painting demonstrations and some free food, so that the Mall resembled a marketplace.
Free public forums on Anxiety Disorders were held in Mandarin and English by respected experts and practitioners. WayAhead has been running Understanding Anxiety Forums for many years but this is the first time that we have held one in Mandarin and it received extremely positive feedback from attendees and speakers alike. Mr Noris Ma, Psychologist, from the Australian Chinese Psychological Association gave a presentation on “Psycho-social barriers & the challenge of accessing service for Chinese migrants”. Other speakers included leading Psychiatrist Dr Richard Wu and Dr Zhiwen Gao, Provisional Psychologist, from the Transcultural Mental Health Centre, as well as Alice Cheok, Adolescent & Family Counsellor, from KYDS Youth Development Service.
The Chinese community was further engaged by the many pieces of collateral that were produced for both the Forum and the Expo in Mandarin including; printed anxiety fact sheets to hand out on the day (link here for digital versions), social media posts including WeChat, posters, fliers and ‘An Anxiety Awareness Guide for Parents’ (link here).
The Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles-Gidney, Federal Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman, leading Psychiatrist Dr Richard Wu and NSW Mental Health Commissioner were on hand to lend support and demonstrate their approval to WayAhead’s CEO Elizabeth Priestley. WayAhead’s staff and a small army of volunteers were on hand to direct visitors to the right service or to supply them with Mental Health fact sheets or information about services catering for their needs and the Willoughby local government area.
Feedback from service providers was extremely positive with stall holders keen to have more opportunities to interact with other communities. Events such as these go a long way to normalising the experience of poor mental health.