Bibi with 2 CFS members Carol and Kath at a ‘FAME’ (Floral Arrangements Make Easy’ workshop held in April 2021.
Dr. Bibiana Chan
When we welcomed 2021 after going through the first wave of COVID-19, who would have thought that the recent lockdown due to the COVID-19 Delta strain would cause yet more negative impact on the economy and our mental health? Life is full of surprises!
Taking one day at a time
The driving force behind my effort to make a difference to the mental health services for young people from diverse backgrounds is my own lived experience. I was able to share my stories in April at an NDIS-funded webinar entitled ‘Barriers for Accessing Mental Health Services by people from CALD background’.
During the first half of 2021, the monthly CFS Pop-Up Stalls slowly took shape and attracted regular customers. Our summer intern, Hannah, helped improve the CFS website and produced a new series of photos to set up an online shop. A junior florist, Jasmine, joined our team in March and participated in a flower trial with Box Divvy (a fruit & vege co-op). Life had pretty much returned to a ‘new’ normal. CFS was awarded a grant in early June for a ‘Help Me Grow’ Pre-Apprenticeship Program. Brand Story cards and flyers to promote CFS Bouquet Subscriptions were printed! I was so excited about all these new projects! When I came out of Chatswood Youth Centre after facilitating the Succulent terrarium Workshop on 26th June, three WhatsApp messages were waiting for me. ‘Lockdown will commence from 6 pm today!’
Crisis meant opportunities!
- After 4 weeks of lockdown, CFS sold 16 x RUOK Glow-in-the-Dark Terrariums via the CFS Facebook Page.
- CFS continued to publish the monthly e-Newsletter. I received encouraging emails from Mrs. Gail Giles-Gidney, the former Mayor of Willoughby City Council, praising the rich content of the CFS e-Newsletter.
- The first virtual terrarium workshop was held in Sept with 100% attendance. In Oct, a total of 4 virtual terrarium workshops (80 DIY Kits were sent to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane) with 73% attendance. Two of the workshops were conducted in a language other than English (Cantonese and Mandarin). There were participants from Hong Kong and Vancouver, Canada!
- In Oct, I published a podcast in Cantonese to promote the Mental Health Month Creative Workshops on the CFS website. It was also broadcast on Commercial Radio 2AC. Due to the great feedback from their listeners, I was invited to ‘appear’ as a guest host for a series of 13 episodes of ‘How much do you know about Mental Health?’ The first episode was aired on 17/11. It will cover topics like: How do you find a psychologist who speaks your language? What is self-compassion? Creativity and Mental Health.
Dealing with COVID-19 lockdown taught me a good lesson: we should believe in human resilience, believe in yourself and be grateful to those who believe in you! Thank you to the CFS Committee and the Consultants for their continuous support. Without them believing in me, there would be no CFS! As the adults’ COVID-19 vaccination rate is approaching 95%, let’s believe that ‘living with COVID-19’ is possible! Hopefully, lockdown is a thing of the past. I LOOK FORWARD TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE IN 2022!
The host is expert on Mental Health and we should ask her to organize more florist workshop to educate people how to improve Mental health.
I think community connection initiatives should be available all year around so people can connect when they need, engage in crafts, build skills, a sense of competency.