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Mental health support for multicultural people

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Quick facts

Quick Facts

Australia is a diverse country, with people from many different cultures, backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities. Anyone can experience distress or mental health issues. It’s important that every Australian has the opportunity to live a full life, free of discrimination and with access to help when they need it. 

  • In the last census almost half of all Australians were either born overseas or had a parent who was born overseas.
  • Immigrants are under-represented among people who use mental health services in Australia. 
  • Refugees and asylum seekers have low access to mental health services. 
  • Common challenges

    Stressful events around migration, seeking asylum, and discrimination can impact wellbeing and mental health for individuals, families, and communities. These can include: 

    • Separation from cultural identity and loss of close family ties
    • Being exposed to trauma prior to migration
    • Stress associated with migration
    • Experiences of racism and discrimination
    • Detention of asylum seekers 
    • Lack of culturally appropriate services 
    • Stigma around mental health within communities
    • Language barriers
    • Uncertainty of visa status 
    • Unfamiliarity with the Australian mental health system and processes. 
  • When to get help 

    Professional support can help people cope with these stressful situations. Talking to a trusted person also helps many people feel less alone.

    If you notice any of the following experiences, and they are impacting your daily life, telling someone you trust or a health professional can be the first step to seeking support: 

    • Changes to sleeping or appetite
    • Feeling lonely, isolated, or not good enough
    • Changes in behaviour – more alcohol or substance use
    • Thinking about harming yourself or ending your life
    • Hearing or sensing things that may not be real
    • Not doing things you used to enjoy
    • Not taking care of personal hygiene or your usual daily tasks
    • Talking or socialising less than previously
    • Having thoughts that are confused or very disorganised.
  • Help for family & friends

    It’s common for family members to take on a caring role for someone going through mental health issues. 

    There are services that support family, friends, and carers and provide a way of connecting with others who may share your experience: 

  • Racism and mental health 

    Experiences of racism cause distress and adversely affects mental health in immigrants and refugees. 

    If you have experienced racial discrimination, you can report it to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Call 1300 656 419. 

  • References 

    Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). 2016 Census: Multicultural.  

    Ferdinand, A. S., Paradies, Y., & Gelaber, M. (2015). Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Australian culturally and linguistically diverse communities: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health, 15.

    Minas, H., Kakuma, R., Too, L. S., Vayani, H., Orapeleng, S., Prasad-Ildes, R., Turner, G., Procter, N., & Oehm, D. (2013). Mental Health Research and Evaluation in Multicultural Australia: Developing a Culture of Inclusion. Mental Health in Multicultural Australia.

Finding support in your area

There are many services available across Australia which can help with your mental health. Some can connect you with other people going through similar experiences or support services in your community.

Last updated: 30 October 2023

Ways we can support you

Choose from a range of support services, including counselling, peer support, online groups and events, 24/7 community forums, and online information and resources.

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Online Forums Community

Available 24/7. SANE’s online community forums provide a safe, non-judgmental space to share your experiences, seek advice and surround yourself with support.

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Talk to a Mental Health Professional

Available Monday to Friday, 10am - 8pm (AEST/AEDT). SANE’s team of trained staff and volunteers provide free support, information, and resources. Call 1800 187 263. Free Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) available on 131 450.

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Additional guidance and support

Available Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm (AEST/AEDT). Work with a dedicated support team to identify your goals and tailor a support plan that's right for you. Choose from a range of supports, incl.  multi-session counselling and peer support.

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Weekly Online Discussion Groups

Every Thursday at 7pm (AEST/AEDT). Weekly online discussions, guided by SANE peer support workers and supported by counsellors. New topics each week.

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Monthly Live Educational Events

Last Tuesday of every month, at 5:30pm (AEST/AEDT). Topic Tuesday is a live Q&A discussion. Each month a different topic is facilitated by a subject matter expert, a community manager or moderator, and supported by a peer support worker.

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Information and Resources

Available 24/7. Access information you can trust on complex mental health issues. SANE factsheets and guides are easy to read and can help you understand what’s happening and what strategies can be helpful.

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Guidance for supporting someone at risk of suicide

Available 24/7. A resource that provides information and advice about supporting someone who has attempted, or is at risk of attempting, suicide.

Get Creative with SANE

The arts have the power to move, to heal and to help us understand ourselves and each other. SANE Create programs provide an outlet to engage with creative activities.

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Peer Guide training and mentoring

Receive guidance and support to develop the skills to use your personal mental health experiences as a peer support worker, building confidence and readiness for employment or further education.

Have questions? Click here to read our FAQs or email us at

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Together we can change lives

Help us provide free essential mental health support and create brighter futures for people with complex mental health issues. Make a tax deductible donation today.


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