Mental health initiative breaks through language barriers

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A new initiative has been launched in Launceston to encourage meaningful conversations around mental health.

As a part of the Launceston Suicide Prevention program, the City of Launceston has worked with the Phoenix Centre, an arm of the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, to create conversation guides in different languages.

In addition to English, the business card-sized guides have been translated into Launceston’s top ten community languages:

Amharic

Arabic

Burmese

Simplified Chinese

Dari

Hindi

Nepali

Oromo

Persian

Tigrinya

Each guide contains tips on how to ask if someone is okay, how to actively listen, how to encourage action, and how to follow up.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said mental health was an important topic for people of all backgrounds.

“It’s possible to make an enormous difference in someone’s life simply by checking in with them to understand how they are feeling,” Mayor van Zetten said.

“Sometimes, it can be a bit of a challenge to know how to start those conversations.

“These cards are a wonderful tool to help connect people of different cultures and backgrounds, and to empower them to start those conversations within their communities.”

Launceston Deputy Mayor Danny Gibson said the cards would be distributed at community events, and were also available on the City of Launceston’s website.

“What I love about this project is that it reaches across cultures to highlight the importance of

caring and listening and, in its own way, celebrates the diversity of our city,” Cr Gibson said.

“I hope it will help break down some barriers across all the wonderful languages spoken in Northern Tasmania.”

Phoenix Centre manager Jane Carlson said translating the cards had been a fascinating exercise.

“Even during the translation process, we found we were starting new conversations with people around how best to contextualise some of these issues for different languages and cultures,” Ms Carlson said.

“It was a very interesting project to work on and we hope it will serve as a reminder to Northern Tasmanians from all backgrounds to reach out and ask their friends and family if they are okay.”

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