On November 1, 2015, an annual health fair was held at BAPS in Robbinsville to provide the community with basic education about potential health concerns. The setting for such a noble event was beautiful and serene. I had the opportunity to participate in the health fair as a team member of South Asian Mental Health Initiative and Network (SAMHIN).
Founded in 2014 by Dr. Vasudev Makhija and co-led by Dr. Prakash Amin, the aim of SAMHIN is to educate the South Asian population on the importance of appropriate mental health care and to provide them with resources that are available in the community.
SAMHIN attempts to address a broad range of mental health concerns of the growing South Asian population nationwide, starting in New Jersey. Its mission is to:
- Educate, engage, and empower the South Asian community to promote mental health literacy.
- Serve as a resource to provide consultation to health care policy makers and health care delivery facilities.
- Increase collaboration between existing mental health organizations that address specific aspects of mental illness, increase awareness of the existence and roles of these organizations, and decrease fragmentation in services provided to the community.
- Promote and conduct research on mental health to serve the South Asian community in the U.S.
- Develop a searchable database of South Asian mental health care providers, social services, and mental health resources to improve access to mental health care.
- Overcome stigma of mental illness.
- Explore ways of making affordable treatment services available.
Visitors to the health fair were of various ages and backgrounds, yet they all seemed motivated to obtain as much information about mental and physical health issues as they could.
SAMHIN screened numerous people, and educated them about depression, insomnia, substance abuse, and other mental health issues that can easily go unnoticed by family members and friends.
It was a great affair in which many volunteers—including Psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, and nurses—offered their skills, knowledge, and time in an attempt to help the community become healthier and more educated.