Mental health is important to all our lives but unfortunately there remains a lot of stigma and ignorance around many mental illnesses. As a result, many people are unable to get the help or support they need, and lose out on relationships, jobs, and, literally, “peace of mind” of living a fulfilled and joyful life. South Asian Mental Health Action & Awareness (SAMHAA) is a new non-profit community network engaging, educating and mobilizing the BC South Asian community around issues related to mental health.
SAMHAA’s mission is to create awareness, foster acceptance, provide links to support & resources, & empower all affected by mental illness. Our vision is a society where health/wellness of the mind, body & spirit are recognized equally, without stigma or stereotypes.
The South Asian Mental Health Conference will be a full-day, all ages, multi-lingual conference in Surrey, BC on Oct. 22, 2011 to bring discussions of mental health in the South Asian community to the forefront. The goal is to establish a safe forum where people can come together and work on solutions to create awareness, reduce stigma, and bridge the gap between individuals with mental health concerns and services that could help them.
Dr. Shimi Kang
Dr. G. Shimi Kang, MD FRCPC founded the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital in 2003, as well as the Youth, Culture, and Mental Health Fund in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Kang joined the Board of Directors of the BC Mental Health Foundation. Dr. Kang’s work on early identification and intervention for youth has been recognized with five national awards in the field of addictions and mental health. Currently, in addition to her role as Medical Director, Child and Youth Mental Health at Vancouver Coastal Health, Dr. Kang is a Psychiatrist for the Provincial Women’s Mental Health Program at BC Women’s Hospital and Assistant Clinical Professor at UBC.
Dr. Gulzar Cheema
Dr. Gulzar S. Cheema, MD CCFP was elected in May 2001 to represent the riding of Surrey-Panorama Ridge, and from June 2001 served as the Minister of State for Mental Health. In January 2004, Dr. Cheema was appointed as Minister of State for Immigration and Multicultural Services. He was also a member of the Legislative Assembly in Manitoba for five years. Currently, in addition to his own family practice in Surrey, BC, Dr. Cheema is a clinical instructor for the Department of Family Practice and Medical Director, iCON South Asian Division eHealth Strategy Office, Faculty of Medicine, UBC.
Board of Directors
Kulpreet Singh, Founder
Kulpreet Singh has worked in the field of marketing for 12 years and studied eCommerce at the University of British Columbia. His interests include spirituality, social & political activism, and community service. After witnessing difficulties faced by individuals with mental illness and the barriers to access, such as age, gender, language, culture, and income, he founded SAMHAA. Kulpreet Singh is currently studying psychology and hopes to coordinate research into mental health issues in marginalized communities.
Natasha Raey, Project Manager
Natasha Raey, Principal Consultant at Raey Consulting, has extensive experience working throughout the Lower Mainland as a seasoned researcher, facilitator, evaluator, collaborator and program developer. In addition to her extensive work and consulting experiences, Natasha also has a Masters in Health Administration from the University of British Columbia and an Honours degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Simon Fraser University.
Tajinder S. Rai, Director
Tajinder S. Rai is currently completing his Masters of Counselling Psychology. He has been working in the field of counselling and psychology for over 8 years. Currently Tajinder is working in the Surrey School District as a youth care worker as well as completing his practicum at Vancouver Coastal Health as a mental health clinician. Being raised in Surrey BC, he has a special connection with the communities there.
Sukhdeep Jassar, Director
Sukhdeep Jassar is currently completing her Masters in Public Health at SFU in the Global Health stream. While completing a practicum analyzing the mental health services provided in Zambia, she felt a renewed desire to work in mental health care, specifically with the South Asian community in Canada. She hopes to use her health promotion experience and her knowledge of mental health to work with other passionate individuals in improving mental health care services here at home.
Sandeep Kambo, Director
Sandeep Kambo has been a Marketing and Account Manager for the past five years at a tech company in Richmond BC, and manages with several of the company’s franchise partners around the world. She is also a Partner at Rouge Marketing & Events, a boutique marketing and event management firm that focuses on leveraging special events as a strategic marketing tool. She has recently taken up digital SLR photography as a hobby, and hopes to turn that into a potential business opportunity in the future as well.
Nirmal Gerow, Director
Nirmal Gerow studied at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. In 1990 she worked on “Lull Before The Storm,” a video documentary about the Sikh women who came to settle in Cowichan Valley from 1930 – 1960. Nirmal sees the act of creativity, as a way to move towards self-awareness and growth. She currently works for a Not-for-Profit agency and volunteered in the past with the Salvation Army. She is passionate about supporting peoples’ journeys through crisis toward mental and spiritual well-being.
Raman Khaira, Director
Raman Khaira is an enthusiastic coach with Hoop Dreams Basketball Club. He has also been actively involved with Guru Nanaks Free Kitchen since 2008, where he serves as their volunteer coordinator. On a number of occasions Raman has traveled to developing countries for relief missions, most recently to Haiti. Raman works at First United Church in the Vancouver downtown eastside.
Harjeet Kaur Grewal, Director
Harjeet Grewal is an educator and volunteers her time with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets at 2381 BCR (Irish Fusiliers) and community outreach events. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in History and Political Science, and B.Ed. in Humanities and Social Justice. Harjeet enjoys continued learning through travel, such as taking part in a symposium on International Mediation and Conflict Resolution in the Czech Republic, a French immersion program at Laval University in Quebec City, and a lion breeding and rehabilitation project at Antelope Park in Zimbabwe.
Polly Sidher, Director
Polly Sidher is the Founder and CEO of Moksha Counselling & Consulting Services. As a Registered Social Worker with over 15 years of related experience, she fuels her passion to support individuals, couples, families & organizations. Through her compassion & knowledge, she offers her expertise to communities such as the South Asian community in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, Ontario.
Harsimran Kaur Kalra, Director
Harsimran Kaur is a vibrant young woman working and volunteering in various health care settings and venues across the Lower Mainland while completing her BSc. in Health Science at Simon Fraser University. She currently works for a learning school and volunteers in various hospitals, research institutes and NGOs. She is extremely passionate about helping people and researching infectious diseases. She wants to study disease-based epidemiology and pursue a career in medicine.
Ramina Kaur Arora, Director
Ramina Kaur is a Masters of Counselling Psychology candidate through Athabasca University and is completing her practicum at Surrey Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services. She completed her Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Counselling and Human Development through SFU, and her Certificate in Counselling through UBC. Ramina is the co-founder of Kaurs United, an international non-profit women’s organization. She currently works with the Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society, supporting South Asian seniors, and is on the board of directors of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre.
Ranjit Kaur, Director
Ranjit Kaur works for ICBC as Claims Adjuster and actively participates in social work and fundraising campaigns with various local non-profit agencies. She has studied at UBC and University of Windsor and completed her degree in Psychology. She is passionate about supporting and actively participating in social issues and Loves to spend time with her family, have spiritual discourses and outdoors activities. She enjoys volunteering with South Fraser Women’s Services Society, Burnaby General Hospital (Children’s Ward), Multi-Faith Action Society, Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, Parent Advisory Council for School District 43 of Coquitlam, Assistant Basketball Coach, and Women Against Violence Against Women (Vancouver chapter).