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Improving mental health in the South Sudanese Australian community

The South Sudanese Australian community in Melbourne has had a devastating spate of suicides amongst its young people. This project worked with young people in the South Sudanese Australian community to develop and trial ideas that improve mental health and wellbeing.

 

Workshop

Background

Melbourne is home to the largest South Sudanese community in Australia. In 2018, the community was experiencing increasing scrutiny, in a way that South Sudanese Australian Communities and TACSI felt was divisive, racist and harmful to their success in Australia. In response, we worked with South Sudanese Australian communities, providers and government to collectively propose ways to enable the community to thrive. That project resulted in the on-going funding of ‘Talk with Me;’ a program that connects generations within the South Sudanese Australian community.

This second project is specifically focussed on improving mental health for young people. Our partners are the community, DHHS and coHealth. This project was catalysed by a tragic string of suicides and stress related deaths. The South Sudanese Australian community and partners wanted to develop community led solutions to improve young people’s wellbeing.

Our approach

Over the past 6 months, we worked with a team of young people to build their capacity to conduct research within their own community, and analyse what they’ve heard. We created peer mental health roles that invite young people to bring their experience to the fore.

We coached teams of South Sudanese Australian young people as they developed three ideas in response to what they heard from their peers in the community. Each idea has been documented and planned with the young people. As they’ve trialled the ideas in the past month we have worked alongside them to tweak and adapt the ideas to further improve mental health, especially during the additional challenge of COVID-19.

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What’s Next

With our support, young people are currently running three trials of new ideas. These ideas have been taken online in response to the COVID-19 context.

Culture Party

Party on Instagram Live celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent and simultaneously conducting live interviews with artists about mental health and wellbeing. The first live Culture Party was watched by more than 600 South Sudanese Australian young people.

Mental Health training

We are co-designing a culturally safe adaptation of the Livingworks START suicide prevention training for young South Sudanese Australians. We are working to simultaneously build a network of young people with mental health training who can support each other.

Conversations between Generations

An online platform hosted by young people to open up and facilitate conversations with older South Sudnaese Australians about mental health and wellbeing. This idea builds on the existing platform of Talk with Me.

We are currently looking for partners who want to advance the mental health of young South Sudanese Australians by funding these ideas to continue and grow. Please contact us to talk more.

Our final report on this project will be available in late August and shared via our newsletter.