News Release: Inaugural South Asian Mental Health Community Conference


Inaugural South Asian Mental Health Community Conference – Raising Awareness, Fighting Stigma, Building Connections for a Healthy Community

VANCOUVER, BC, September 28, 2011 – The inaugural South Asian Mental Health Community Conference, hosted by South Asian Mental Health Alliance (SAMHAA) Society, will be the first event of its kind, bringing together multidisciplinary professionals, agencies, and community members. The event aims to reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health issues, and facilitate education and discussion within the community.

SAMHAA, meaning “time & circumstances” in Punjabi & Hindi, is a BC non-profit society founded in January, 2011 to build bridges between those affected by mental health issues, advocates, and resource providers through ongoing outreach, advocacy, education and discourse. “Mental illness affects 1 in 4 people worldwide regardless of culture or country,” explains Dr. Shimi Kang, the first keynote speaker at the event. “South Asian specific cultural issues can impact the presentation, course, and management of illness for affected individuals and their families. SAMHAA’s efforts will provide much needed awareness and key information about mental health and wellbeing for South Asians within their own cultural context.” Workshops on various topics will take place throughout the day in English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi by leading South Asian mental health professionals, concluding with an afternoon keynote by Dr. Gulzar Cheema.

The event is hosted in partnership with The BC Mental Health Foundation, Surrey School District and Sources Community Resource Centre Society, and will feature information tables from over 15 local agencies. Complimentary lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required.

Event: South Asian Mental Health Community Conference
Date & Time: October 22, 2011, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (doors open at 9:00 am)
Location: Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, 9457 King George Blvd, Surrey, V3V 5W4
To register:

Mental health is important to all members of society but, unfortunately, there remains a lot of stigma and ignorance around many mental illnesses. Historically, the South Asian community has had limited access to, or knowledge of, resources and support for culturally relevant and multilingual mental health information. As a result, many people are unable to get the help or support they need, and lose out on relationships, jobs, and, literally, the “peace of mind” of living a fulfilled and joyful life.

South Asian Mental Health Alliance (SAMHAA) is a new non-profit community network engaging, educating and mobilizing the South Asian community around issues related to mental health. 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. SAMHAA’s vision is a society where health and wellness of the mind, body and spirit are recognized equally, without stigma or stereotypes.


Arvinder Grewal, Clinical Counsellor, BC Children’s Hospital
Dr. HaFeez Mian, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Surrey School District
Dr. Jas Bhopal, Psychiatrist
Dr. Poonam Tangri, Psychologist, Centre for Child Development
Dr. Rajpal Singh, Psychologist

(Keynote) Dr. G. Shimi Kang, MD FRCPC, Psychiatrist, Provincial Women’s Health Program, BC Women’s Hospital
Assistant Clinical Professor, UBC
Founder, Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program, BC Children’s Hospital
Founder, Youth, Culture, and Mental Health Fund, BC Mental Health Foundation
Board of Directors of the BC Mental Health Foundation

(Keynote) Dr. Gulzar S. Cheema, MD CCFP, Family Practitioner
Clinical Instructor, Department of Family Practice, UBC
Medical Director, iCON South Asian Division eHealth Strategy Office, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
Former MLA, Surrey-Panorama Ridge
Former Minister of State for Mental Health
Former Minister of State for Immigration and Multicultural Services

October 22 Schedule:
9:00am – Doors Open (Tea, Registration)
10:00am – Welcome & Opening Keynote
11:00am – Main Session: Depression
12:00pm – Breakout Sessions:
– Psychosis
1:00pm – Complimentary Lunch and Exhibition
2:00pm – Main Session: Substance Abuse
3:00pm – Breakout Sessions:
– Dementia
– Anxiety Disorder
4:00pm – Closing Keynote (Dr. Gulzar Cheema)
4:30pm – Open Floor Q&A and Exhibition

Register Now:


Speakers & Mental Health Professionals:
Please visit

To volunteer please visit

Free exhibiting space is available for relevant local resource providers. To sign up, please visit

General Inquiries:
Kulpreet Singh, Founder, SAMHAA
Phone: 778.319.1699

Media Inquiries:
Natasha Raey, Project Manager, SAMHAA
Phone: 778.552.4538