Originally established by the Victorian State Government as a small clinical service in 1989, the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit (VTPU) is now known as the Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) in line with changes in the mental health sector and Victoria's diverse population.
Its mission is to facilitate the improvement of mental health services for members of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities. It is a statewide service which evolved from a small clinical service to a service which supports area mental health services and the community managed mental health sector in working with CaLD communities throughout Victoria.
In 1996 it was awarded Commonwealth funding to establish the Australian Transcultural Mental Health Network. Currently the VTMH is funded by the Mental Health, Drugs and Regions Division of the Victorian Department of Mental Health, and administered by St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne.
Transcultural Mental Health in Victoria
There is a long history of interest in transcultural mental health in Victoria, dating from the 1960s with the work of Jerzy Krupinski and his group at the Mental Health Research Institute on the mental health of immigrants, and followed in the 1970s by Ivor Jones and others investigating the mental health of Aboriginal communities. In 1983 Harry Minas published in the Medical Journal of Australia the results of a study examining the relative rates of use of ECT in the treatment of Australian-born and immigrant patients. A number of such studies demonstrated that there was considerable variation in the prevalence of mental disorders in different immigrant groups, and that there were substantial problems in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in patients of immigrant background.