Empowering South Asian youth to tackle mental health stigma

Below is today’s news release from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions regarding the South Asian Youth Mental Health ambassadors project (published with permission). For more information, contact info@samhaa.org.

South Asian youth will be actively promoting mental wellness and reducing stigma with their peers, families and communities through a new mental health youth ambassador program funded by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

The South Asian Mental Health Alliance (SAMHAA) received $112,900 in year-end funding to train 100 youth ambassadors by spring 2021. The training will be offered throughout the Lower Mainland and includes the mental health first-aid certification course, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Additionally, training and mentoring in cultural safety, overdose crisis education, health-care system navigation skills and learning how to use the arts to promote dialogue about mental health will be provided to participating youth ambassadors.

“For far too long, many South Asian people with mental health and addiction challenges have felt isolated and suffered in silence because of a lack of culture- and language-specific supports,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This exciting program will empower young people to become mental health advocates, and they, in turn, can help more people to open up and find the supports they need to begin a pathway to healing and hope.”

South Asian communities are one of the largest ethno-cultural groups in the province and tend to access mental health and substance use services less often than the general population. SAMHAA is tackling this disparity by working with local non-profit societies, faith communities and service providers to raise awareness, build capacity and reduce stigma around mental health, with a focus on leveraging the expertise and influence of second-generation South Asian Canadians.

“Young people are leading the charge when it comes to removing the shame and blame around mental health and addiction challenges,” said Kulpreet Singh, founder of the South Asian Mental Health Alliance. “This training will give them the skills and support they need to help their peers and family members make mental wellness a priority.”

Once the youth ambassadors have completed their training, they will lead projects to spark discussions on mental health and raise awareness of supports and services available in their communities. 

“Talking honestly about your mental health can be really daunting,” said Tanisha Kaur Gill, a Grade 11 student and youth ambassador. “But by using music, dance, poetry and other art forms to talk about mental health, we can break the ice and make it easier for our friends and family members to start having these important conversations.”

Learn More:

SAMHAA: www.samhaa.org

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/NR_South_Asian_Youth_Punjabi.pdf

Dasmesh Wellness Centre

A first of its kind community service is coming to Surrey, BC.

Keep your eyes peeled on the news as the Dasmesh Wellness Centre, a partnership of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Moving Forward Family Services, and South Asian Mental Health Alliance, is on the horizon!



 Moving Forward Family Services is a social service agency offering affordable, accessible, language specific and culturally safe counseling at multiple sites throughout the Lower Mainland. Their PR contact is agency founder, Gary Thandi, 778-321-3054.


Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar is home to one of BC’s largest congregations and the host of the largest Vaisakhi celebration outside of South Asia. They are a sponsor for phrase 1 of the SAYMH project and the host of the Dasmesh Wellness Centre. Their PR contact is Gurdwara president, Moninder Singh Bual, 604-724-7264.

100,000 Members!

The #MentalHealth discussion forum (subreddit) on Reddit, moderated by SAMHAA, has passed 100,000 members!

“This past May 9th was my 8th anniversary on Reddit.com. 
For a few months, I lurked, having moved over from Digg. 
Around this time our non-profit society, South Asian Mental Health Alliance, was in its second year. 
The following year, in 2012, I came across a subreddit called, very plainly, “mental health.” Interestingly, it had only a few hundred members and the moderator was MIA.

As I started to poke around, I realized this community had a lot of potential and I wanted to help. 
I would sometimes reply to posts with my feedback, or make posts of my own. However, for a while, I noticed nobody had stepped up to take over moderation. I didn’t even know it was possible to do so. Finally, I found the place where you could make a request to takeover as mod. 
I never imagined, after taking over as mod seven years ago, that our small subreddit, which had a few hundred members at the time, would one day reach 100,000 MEMBERS! 
This community has demonstrated the power of resiliency, peer support, communication, and courage to fight stigma.

r/mentalhealth now boasts 50 to 60 thousand unique visitors a month, with about 4,000 of those daily. It has weathered reddit cleanups of fake accounts, lots of spam, and its fair share of trolls, but it continues to grow. 
We are so honoured, humbled, and grateful for the opportunity to host this small corner of the internet where people can rant, vent, share, etc. and most importantly support each other and fight stigma around mental health.” Please join us: reddit.com/r/mentalhealth

Bell Let’s Talk – UBC Mental Health Network

Thank you to #UBC#mentalhealth Network’s (@ubcmhn) On Campus Project Coordinator, Ravia Arora (@raviaarora), for sharing on our story the events taking place on campus today to promote mental health advocacy and literacy!

Kudos to the UBCMHN team for the great work they do for student mental health.

We look forward to more guest posts from Ravia and her team! 😊

75,000 members

We would like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year. For all those celebrating, taking down time, and especially for anyone struggling in the winter season we send you our love and wish you brighter days ahead.

Thanks to your support, we are soon launching a new Youth Mental Health Ambassador program in 2019 in partnership with local agencies.

Also thanks to your support, over the last year the Mental health discussion forum (subreddit) run by South Asian Mental Health Alliance has continued to serve as a support and resource sharing hub and grown to over 75,000 members!

If you would like to join together with us, we are always interested in partnerships and collaborations. You can email info @ samhaa.org to get in touch.

Consultation with Minister Judy Darcy

It was a pleasure to attend the South Asian Community consultation on July 17th with Minister for Mental Health & Addictions, Judy Darcy. The Ministry invited SAMHAA founder Kulpreet Singh and former SAMHAA chair of the board of directors, Sukhdeep Jassar, currently at Fraser Health, as well as various community front-line professionals to the consultation at Surrey Public Library. We look forward to reviewing the report and subsequent plans from the Ministry on bringing much needed improvements and reinforcements to mental health care in BC, and appreciate the opportunity to provide our input in the process.