Multi-Cultural Mental Health Access Program (McMHAP) Review (2001)

Author: Paul Aylward

A study into the Multi-Cultural Mental Health Access Program (McMHAP) was conducted by SACHRU in 2001. The aim of the study was to review the diverse functions of the program in order to prioritise strategies/future roles where resources can be focussed in order to enhance the effectiveness of McMHAP in the mental health sector in South Australia. A major concern of the review was to gauge general perceptions of McMHAP across a wide range of organisations serving the needs of Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) communities and the mental health sector in South Australia, with a particular view to canvassing opinions about its roles and responsibilities and possible future directions.

Two stages were employed for the data gathering exercise. Stage One consisted of telephone interviews and a self completion mail survey which were used to gain feedback from key stakeholders in the NESB mental health arena. Opinions were canvassed across a range of organisations including community health services, ethnic organisations, advocacy bodies and special interest groups, non-government organisations and government departments and services, and the education sector.

Stage Two of the review targeted key stakeholders with an immediate and contractual connection to McMHAP, namely a group of North Western Adelaide Mental Health Services team-leaders including the director, McMHAP workers and their various client groups. Five focus groups were conducted with each of these parties, including three with each of the main NESB client groups (Chinese, Eastern European and Vietnamese). Overall, McMHAP was viewed very positively by participants in this review. In particular, the role played by McMHAP in representing the interests of people of NESB with mental health concerns is considered to be of vital importance in the context of the mainstream mental health sector, which is often seen as lacking in understanding and sensitivity vis-à-vis multicultural mental health issues.

McMHAP is seen to be a driving force in raising awareness about these issues, and providing much needed support and assistance to services and NESB communities alike to facilitate the cross-cultural mental health encounter. The report discusses the difficulties of McMHAP's ever increasing case load and advocates a number of adaptations to the myriad roles of McMHAP in its future practice.

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