A partnership between community health service, cohealth, and the Quang Minh Buddhist temple in Melbourne’s west, is providing community mental health supports to the local Vietnamese Buddhist community, while reducing the stigma associated with accessing mental health services.   

After recognising that some of the people who came to the temple had mental health needs, the head monk, Abbot Thich Phuoc Tan, approached cohealth for help, remembering their help in delivering pop-up vaccination clinics at the temple during COVID.     

“In our community, there is a lot of stigma around mental health, and a lack of information about what help is available,” said Abbot Thich Phuoc Tan. 

“People often come to talk to me about their problems, but they don’t have the scientific words to describe what is going on.”   

“I can help them with spiritual guidance, but I know they need a holistic approach that looks at their spiritual, mental and physical health.”  

cohealth will build the capacity of the temple to identify and respond to the mental health needs of its community and improve access to cohealth’s mental health service in Brimbank. 

The Brimbank Mental Health and Wellbeing Local, operated by cohealth in Sunshine, is a free walk-in, mental health service that does not require referrals or an appointment.     

At the Brimbank Local, clients can connect with multi-lingual bicultural workers and peer workers who have a shared experience of mental ill-health. 

cohealth’s Director, Community Mental Health and Homelessness Responses, Angelika Broederlow, said that making mental health services culturally safe and accessible is vital.   

“Our approach brings health services to where they are needed, rather than waiting for people to navigate the system.  We use the knowledge and expertise of bicultural workers to make sure that our services are culturally safe and relevant,” said Ms Broederlow. 

“This new mental health partnership will explore a range of initiatives to improve the mental health of the community connected to the temple and is using codesign principles to ensure the community is involved every step of the way.” 

cohealth will join theVietnamese Lunar New Year festival at the Quang Minh temple on February 9 and 10.

The cohealth | Quang Minh Buddhist temple project has been made possible in part through a ‘Reimagining Project’ grant from the Department of Health to support culturally responsive services that support mental wellness for diverse communities.