migrant and refugee young people urged to seek support for mental ill-health

A new headspace campaign shining a light on the mental health of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds is encouraging young people from all cultures to seek support in tough times.

Launching today, the Strength in my roots video series and online resources share the stories of three migrant and refugee young people, all of whom have lived experiences of mental ill-health. A family member supporting their migrant young person also speaks out as part of the campaign.

By sharing their journeys publicly, the young people and family member hope to break down stigma in their communities and reassure other young people from diverse backgrounds that there is no shame in reaching out for help.

headspace Youth National Reference Group member Lehan Zhang appears in the campaign and says their Chinese-Australian family initially struggled to understand their experiences of autism, ADHD and anxiety.

“That can make it hard to identify that something isn’t right with your mental health, and can make getting support more difficult too,” Lehan said.

“But the more I’ve learned about mental health and the more I’ve shared my own experiences – whether it’s with my friends and family, or to headspace – the more confident I feel.

“I learned there were other people out there who shared these experiences.”

Lehan’s message to other young people is clear: “It’s OK to not feel your best all the time and to acknowledge that, if you don’t feel well, you can get help.”

headspace National Clinical Advisor Rupert Saunders says the intersection between mental health and culture can be complex for young people.  

“Many young people from multicultural backgrounds find great strength and resilience in connecting with their culture and community.

But for young people from cultures in which mental health and wellbeing are not talked about openly, or that look at mental health in a different way to other Australians, it can be a difficult topic to discuss.

 “There can also be extra challenges that come with navigating the world as a multicultural young person in Australia, like feeling different from the people around you and even experiencing racism and discrimination.

“It’s important to remember that you can seek support for your mental health while still honouring your cultural identity.

“How you feel is valid, and there are people who can help and support you through hard times.” 

The Strength in my roots video series launches across major social media platforms today.

There are also online resources available at the headspace website to help young people, their family and friends find the support they need.

If you are a young person, or the family member or friend of a young person, in need of more support, you can visit your nearest headspace centre. You can also access our phone and webchat support service eheadspace daily from 9am to 1am AEST.