Improving co-design in community mental health initiatives

Three people working together

Mental health can be a tricky topic for diverse communities to tackle openly, but new knowledge of what works in co-designed health promotions might make things easier.

CEI has been engaged to evaluate Mental Health Australia’s (MHA) multi-year CALD Community Engagement Project, supporting co-design and pilot testing of mental health promotion projects in partnership with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

“The project’s goal is to build health promotions that respond to the interests and needs of specific communities, enhancing mental health awareness, reducing stigma, and bolstering community capacity and resilience,” says Dr Vanessa Rose, CEI Director.

The evaluation covers 12 individual projects over three years (including lessons learnt and stakeholder feedback), as well as synthesised findings across all projects to build an overall picture of success.

“Specifically, we’ll look at how, and how well, the community engagement and co-design activities and processes are undertaken – also evaluating the role of an Engagement Toolkit provided to support the teams. And we’ll assess the extent to which projects reflect co-design learnings. Lastly, we’ll look at whether the mental health promotion projects are feasible to implement, as well as any early indicators of likely sustainability over time,” Vanessa explains.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing what new knowledge we can develop that might help more communities going forward.”

The CALD Community Engagement Project is managed through MHA’s Embrace Project, which links mental health services and multicultural communities, building a more equitable mental health system that can respond to the needs of Australia’s multicultural population. Findings from this evaluation will be fed into Embrace’s sustainability plan for ongoing work.