Sanctuary receives mental health grant

Every night over 120 people seeking asylum are empowered to transition from homelessness to independence through Baptcare's Sanctuary program, which provides transitional housing along with holistic support services.

Baptcare'srecent efforts towards providing better mental health for our clients​​ involved the approval of a $70,000 grant to fund our Asylum Seeker's Mental Health and Wellbeing Project.

Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of an initiative coordinated by the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and Tandem, the grant will provide a much-needed level of support for people seeking asylum throughout Victoria. The project aims to develop a strong mental health literacy level, effective preventative and health promoting approaches, a positive wellbeing culture and an earlier detection process.

Many asylum seekers struggle with loss and grief, poverty and even family violence, and with each of these factors contributing to unstable mental health, the project will take Sanctuary from its current state of limited preventative capacity and ongoing crisis management, to the next level.

The future state will hold strong mental health literacy and positive wellbeing with early detection.

Baptcare Operations Manager for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Perdriau stressed on the importance of the grant for asylum seeker wellbeing.

"Many of the people we house experience serious mental health issues related to their histories of torture and trauma and compounded by prolonged periods of indefinite detention, and the stress of long and uncertain periods of seeking protection in Australia," Jason said.

With the prevalence of mental disorders being categorically higher than that of the general population, the grant will allow Baptcare to not only increase the literacy surrounding mental health, but provide training and support to staff and volunteers to increase prevention and early detection measures that are in place.

The grant will encourage new and effective strategies to build a broader service system capacity, as well as developing systems, relationships and pathways for detection and referrals to aid the patients themselves.

On the ground level, the project will develop a culture of self-care and wellbeing amongst the Sanctuary community, which consists of 124 residents per night and 50 volunteers.

The end goal is sustainability. Transferring skills to the casework team and develop resources will ensure ongoing capacity beyond the life of the project which concludes in December 2018.

The project will support and promote asylum seeker's safety by improving uptake of treatment services. It will provide opportunities by promoting mental health and improving capacity for prevention. The project will give people a fair go, by ensuring availability and greater equity in the uptake of mental health services.

The achievements of the project will encourage sustenance.

"This project will foster preventative approaches, build mental health literacy and empower individuals to nurture their own recovery. It will improve the mental wellbeing of the people we work with and will allow us to support more people in need," Jason concluded.​​​