Improving Mental Health Care for South Asians
The South Asian Mental Health Initiative and Network (SAMHIN) team consists of mental health clinicians and other professionals who volunteer their time to decrease the stigma and shame associated with mental illness, and offer resources for those seeking help. These volunteers participate in planning, community outreach, public educational events, writing articles, facilitating support groups in support of that mission. Working within the community, SAMHIN develops an understanding of the disparities and deficiencies in legacy mental health care services. In response, they develop programs to increase awareness, improve comprehensive health literacy, decrease stigma, and improve acceptance of mental health care diagnosis, treatment programs and services.
Partnering with HealthierJC to Create a Culture of Mental Health Care for South Asians
HealthierJC believes in developing a culture of health, and in alignment with this objective, SAMHIN proposed conducting a free Suicide Prevention Workshop with mini-grant funding. The workshop was targeted to the broader Jersey City community, with participants from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The group session would be structured to educate participants about a pervasive and often misunderstood health concern by providing an overview of suicide statistics, myths and facts, risk factors, warning signs, and prevention strategies.
The shared SAMHIN and HealthierJC goal was to empower individuals to make healthy decisions and advocate for mental health at home, school, work, and within their community.
Workshop Delivery, Results and Moving Forward…
The workshop occurred on January 22nd, 2020, pre-covid shut down, where SAMHIN conducted a free Suicide Prevention Workshop at the Vaibhav Restaurant Banquet Hall in Jersey City. While SAMHIN facilitators moderated, the HealthierJC team opened the session with an overview of Jersey City mental health programs and services. This introduction was followed by medical experts who presented national and local mental health statistics, risk factors and warning signs, prevention, coping and de-escalation strategies, treatment options, and the connection between the physical and mental aspects of health.
During the session, testimonials significantly contributed to the collective understanding of mental health issues and key learnings. Several participants who lost someone to suicide shared powerful, personal accounts of their experiences helping friends and family struggling with suicide. Other participants from different cultural backgrounds shared activities that positively contributed to the mental health and well-being of themselves and those ‘at risk’, including exercising, yoga, meditating, mindfulness activities, healthy eating, healthy living, and pursuit of hobbies.
The session ended with an engaging question & answer exchange that
extended beyond the planned session end-time to accommodate all participant queries and concerns. Following the session, a mother that anonymously expressed concern about her child who exhibited suicidal thoughts, was connected to a psychiatrist for one-on-one attention and guidance.
As a result, this workshop improved the awareness and understanding of participants, which is a big step towards suicide prevention in the community. Pre-workshop and post-workshop questionnaires definitively revealed that the participants gained knowledge about suicide prevention and cultivating healthy lifestyles by attending the workshop.
Moving forward, SAMHIN seeks to collaborate with HealthierJC to conduct more mental health awareness and learning activities for the Jersey City community. For more information on SAMHIN, please visit the organization’s website at https://samhin.org/