south asian mental health conference

first live blogging in a long time!

sitting here with 12 others to discuss putting together a mental health conference with a focus on the south asian community in british columbia. for those of you not familiar with the term “south asian” – it refers to people of mostly indian background, e.g. people with ethnic backgrounds in india, fiji, pakistan, etc. the idea for this conference started quite a while ago, shortly after we had our first mental health camp.

the topics that have come up already are stigma (“everyone wants you to hide it”), the lack of services, and the lack of involvement on the part of the community.

the idea so far is to create a one-day educational forum on mental health for the south asian community. the intention is to have workshops, perhaps meet with professionals, etc. the overarching goal is to reduce stigma and create acceptance. obviously you can’t do that with just one event but it might just be a start. it’s also important to give the community a voice – important to hear personal stories and anecdotes. there is a broken link between the people who require help and those who offer help.

there is an idea to have high school students volunteering. this would allow them to openly attend without immediately having a stigma attached to them (“why are YOU going to this???”)

let’s have some depression screening and ADHD screening there!

there should be some way of reaching seniors whose english is not very good.

let’s make it fun and interactive! “wow, i didn’t think about mental health in this way!” maybe adding some art into the forum would help with that. let’s have something that people can laugh at!

we could also look into “what is mental health?”

we want to work with people who have a balanced view of mental health; inviting pharma to be significant sponsors probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

an aside: it’s interesting to live blog something like this. so far i have only live blogged big events; this is a smallish gathering. it’s intimate and it feels a bit intrusive to try and live blog it. good learning!

one of the biggest challenges will be to assist the south asian community to make it easier to talk about mental health in general and to talk about mental health to each other. an interesting comment by someone: “when i went to my first event with my community, i thought, ‘oh god, they know everything about me!'” this is a very close-knit community, with all the pros and cons that come with it.

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