Prof Terence V McCann to present on educating African migrant communities on mental health

Victoria University
Professor Terence V McCann from Victoria University will present at the 16th International Mental Health Conference on educating family members of African migrant communities to seek help for mental health issues. The Conference will be held at QT Hotel, Gold Coast 12-14 August 2015.

Abstract Title: Bridging the gap: Educating family members from African migrant communities about seeking help for depression, anxiety and substance in young people

Background: Mental health issues in young migrants are compounded by the challenges of acculturation, pressures also associated with an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, and reluctance to seek help.

Aims: To identify barriers and facilitators to professional help-seeking for anxiety, depression and alcohol and drug use problems, for young people from recently established African migrant communities. To develop and pilot an innovative health promotion resource that encourages parents to support their son or daughter to seek help.

Methods: The project was conducted over three phases:

  1. Qualitative investigation of barriers and facilitators to help-seeking.
  2. A pictorial-based parenting health promotion resource was developed.
  3. The resource was piloted tested and evaluated.

Help-seeking barriers
Poor parental mental health literacy existed. While parents acknowledged problems associated with mental health issues and alcohol and drug use, they were often unsure how to address the issues with their son or daughter. Stigma about these problems deterred help-seeking. Differences in help-seeking were compounded by language and cultural differences, and differing levels of community connectedness. Parental concerns around health professionals cultural competency meant this form of support may not be viewed as a viable or preferred option. Financial costs deterred professional help-seeking.

Help-seeking facilitators
Trust and familiarity of close friends, and the bond between families facilitated help-seeking through informal sources. For young people, encouragement and emotional support from family and friends facilitated access to professionals. Strong cultural affiliations enabled parents and young people to capitalise on existing resources within their own community and as means of providing access to professional support. Perceived expertise of health professionals increased some young people's confidence in help-seeking from formal services.

A health promotion resource addressing problem recognition and the stigma of openly discussing mental health, drug and alcohol problems, was developed, and is summarised in this presentation.

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