Why was this project needed?
This project started with Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (Vic Health) identifying
the need to support the mental health and wellbeing of multicultural young people in Victoria. The need turned into 'The Big Connect' which is a integrated health program, aiming to support the mental health and wellbeing of Victoria’s young people. The program is part of the Future Healthy initiative.
To work with communities experiencing the most significant barriers to accessing mental health information (Pasifika, African (with a focus on South Sudanese), and South Asian (with a focus on Tamil Sri Lankans, Sinhalese and South Indian) to support young people and their carers to raise awareness of what mental health is and looks like, and the protective factors that enhance mental wellbeing.
Shakti Mental Health began involvement in the program in March 2022 after meeting with prominent Tamil refugee advocate Shankar Kasyanathan who was a Victorian Multicultural Commissioner and co founder of 'The Open Exchange' who advocated for Shakti to come on board as project consultants. The name of the project was developed thanks to Anu Krishnan who asked Tamil elders in the community for project name suggestions; Arrokiyam the Tamil word for wellbeing = அரோக்கியம் was chosen. We then began to recruit collaborators and advisors from the community which included young people, MH professionals and elders who could inform Shakti on wellbeing challenges that needed solutions.
Who was involved?
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