Leading health and multicultural organisations are uniting to tackle “huge” mental health gaps in Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

Mental Health Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) will team up to deliver a new multicultural mental health project with $3.9 million from the Department of Health.

CEO of Mental Health Australia Frank Quinlan told SBS News that mental health issues can be particularly severe among people from CALD backgrounds, but many are missing out on necessary services.

“People from CALD backgrounds have often experienced trauma before they left their country of origin. They may have also experienced trauma as part of the migration process,” he said.

“They’re adjusting to a new country. They may have lost family bonds or their family bonds may be different. There are language barriers and cultural barriers … And they often face racism and discrimination.”

Mr Quinlan said that despite these challenges, there remain “huge” gaps in access to mental health services.

He said that people who are born overseas, or have one or both parents born overseas, make up 50 per cent of the Australian population. However, they only make up eight per cent of those accessing subsidised mental health services.

Mr Quinlan also told SBS News people from CALD backgrounds are overrepresented when it comes to “involuntary” hospital admissions for “acute” mental health issues. This means “people from CALD backgrounds aren’t getting help until quite late”.

– Nick Baker

Read more: $3.9 Million Project for Mental Health Support for Multicultural Australians

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