*For Immediate Release*
May 30, 2011 (Vancouver, BC)
Launch of South Asian Mental Health Alliance (SAMHAA)
Filling the Gaps in South Asian Mental Health Needs
South Asian Mental Health Alliance (SAMHAA) is a new non-profit network designed to engage, educate and mobilize the BC South Asian community around issues concerning mental health and wellbeing.
Historically, the South Asian community has had limited access to, or knowledge of, resources and support for culturally relevant mental health information. Within South Asian families, there is also a fairly strong stigma that exists around disclosing and discussing mental illnesses. Seeing the need for support, SAMHAA was created to fill the current gap that exists in the community by facilitating the support network and working with the community to help build acceptance of mental health and wellness among South Asians.
As the first organization of its kind in Canada, SAMHAA’s mission is to create awareness, foster acceptance, provide links to support and resources, as well as empower all affected by mental illness. Their vision is a society where health and wellness of the mind, body and spirit are recognized equally, without stigma or stereotypes.
This past Sunday, SAMHAA hosted their first-ever mental health workshop at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Surrey. Roughly 200 members of the congregation were given the opportunity to learn about mental health and wellness, overcoming stigma and ways to support affected family and friends.The keynote speaker was Dr. Shimi Kang, Assistant Professor at UBC and Psychiatrist at BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospitals. Another highlight of the event was the first ever showing of artwork by local artist Nirmal Gerow who has used art as a means of expression and therapy in her own mental health experiences. As stated by Gerow,
“During difficult times, art ceases being an intellectual pursuit to become a sacred place where I can come and, without expectations and judgment, put pen to paper and just start with a simple line or gesture.”
Although a new organization, SAMHAA already has the support of the BC Mental Health Foundation, Sources Community Resource Center and the Surrey School District Community Schools Partnership.
This workshop was SAMHAA’s first foray into the larger community, and the 12 committed volunteers who have come together for this network are feverishly working to bring the South Asian Community a two-day conference on mental health and wellness to be held in Surrey on October 22, 2011. In addition, SAMHAA, which aims to be a catalyst in a movement of awareness, will host ongoing workshops and outreach events related to mental health throughout BC this summer and following the conference. To learn more about the upcoming conference, request a workshop, or get involved as a volunteer, please check out SAMHAA at www.samhaa.org, on Twitter @SouthAsianMH or via phone at (604) 771-0229.
For questions or pictures from the event:
Media Contact: Natasha Raey
Phone: 778 552 4538