Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Mental Health

30 April 2021

CALD, or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people make up nearly 45% of the population in Australia. These are people either born overseas or having one or two parents born overseas. People from CALD backgrounds may speak a language other than English.  They may also identify with a specific religion or culture.

The Difference between Refugees and Migrants

As defined by a UN Refugee and Migrants resource page:

  • A refugee is ‘a person who is: outside their own country fleeing war or persecution across an international border. it is too dangerous for them to return home, and they need sanctuary elsewhere.’
  • Migrants may choose to move not from the fear of persecution or death but often to improve their lives through employment, education, and family reunion amongst the reasons. However extreme factors at home such as natural disasters and coercion could also be a factor.

Resettlement challenges for CALD populations

Australia’s CALD population can face huge resettlement challenges including:

  • The effects of conflict, torture and trauma and the migration or refugee journey itself.
  • They are twice as likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues compared to Australian-born residents.
  • Culture shock – the challenge of adjusting to a society with different social structures.
  • The stresses associated with organising housing, health care, schooling and other services.

These factors can have an impact on the mental health of CALD populations. You can go to the Embrace Project website for more information about Multicultural mental health and wellbeing in Australia.

The NMHCCF highlights that it is critical to:

  • Identify and understand the specific needs of refugees including provision of mental health programs, community health outreach and providing an initial point of contact to the health system.
  • Ensure the provision of sufficient and readily accessible interpreters with appropriate training including mental health first aid.
  • Provide increased training and employment of CALD consumer and family/ carer consultants, bicultural workers and peer workers and clinical staff.
  • Ensure engagement with CALD communities through spiritual and community leaders to improve mental health literacy and awareness, support community resilience, enhance coping strategies and combat stigmatisation.

Download the full advoacy brief

Advocacy Brief - Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) Mental Health