A YANCHEP mental health worker won the community champion award at the WA African Community Awards.
The Organisation of African Communities WA hosted the September 7 awards, with Tandi Kuwana’s win acknowledging how far African communities had come in accepting that mental illness was a growing problem.
Within the African community in WA, more than 10 people have died by suicide in the past two years, and mental illness and suicide have been taboo subjects in most African countries.
“This award shows we are moving in the right direction and communities are beginning to have a dialogue about the importance of maintaining their mental health as well as their physical health,” Ms Kuwana said.
The Mental Wellness Keys founder has 14 years’ experience working in the mental health sector, including speaking about mental health among migrants at the G200 2017 Youth Forum.
Passionate about improving people’s mental health literacy, Ms Kuwana has been involved in government boards in Perth advocating for better services, particularly for people from developing countries.
“There is need for more targeted mental health promotion that is culturally safe and sensitive,” she said.
She was part of the Mental Health Australia advisory group tasked with coming up with multicultural mental health framework by the Federal Government.
The framework called Embrace Mental Health was launched in August, and as a panel member, Ms Kuwana has contributed ways mental health services could improve and meaningfully engage with people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
She has worked with grassroots organisations such as The Smith Family, Richmond Wellbeing and Palmerston and received a SANE Hocking Fellowship in 2018 to investigate the stigma of mental illness in communities from developing counties.