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'Healthy mind, body and soul’ – Mental Health day marked in London

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How do you achieve a healthy mind, body and soul?

This was the question that was addressed at the World Mental Health event held in Kingston on Nov 3rd, 2019 to commemorate Mental Health Day organised by the Centre for Community Development.

Guest speakers included Dr John Azar from the Kingston Race and Equalities Council, Mona Saha from the Samaritans, Dr Menacca Pathialingam, Bobby Tharma and Peter Paul from BrainnBody. The talks addressed the stigmas associated with mental illness in the Asian and African community, particularly in the Tamil community with a special focus on suicide prevention.

The event highlighted not only the need for the community to support one another but also highlighted the importance of being self-aware of one’s own mental wellbeing. Dr John Azar commenced the event discussing the issues surrounding mental health and its impact on minority communities whilst sharing his thoughts and observations from personal experiences.

This was followed by a talk from the Samaritans based in Kingston. Mona Saha kicked off with some startling facts on the suicide rates in the UK and highlighted the support the Samaritans offer to anyone who needs a listening ear. Bobby Tharma engaged with the audience with many thought provoking questions, impressing the importance of listening to our children without judgement and the important role parents play to ensure the children have a positive upbringing enabling them to maintain healthy relationships.

The audience was then treated to an interesting talk by Dr Pathialingam who very lucidly and eloquently covered profound truths on the causes of self-inflicted stress and how to tackle them. The event concluded with Peter Paul’s Ki Kong, a Korean healing art. This consisted of a number of different activities including meditation and breathing exercises focusing on training the brain using our body.

There were roughly 50 individuals who attended the event; many in attendance stated that they found it informative and interesting. In particular, many found Ki Kong very enjoyable and relaxing.

CCD’s Healthy Mind Project was established to tackle mental health issues in the Tamil community. In 1987, The Tamil Information Centre conducted a needs assessment and found that the borough of Newham had the highest number of Tamils who suffered from various mental illnesses as a result of war, torture and trauma. On the back of this finding a number of counselling sessions were provided to identified individuals and eventually the Healthy Mind Project was initiated by the late Varadakumar Vairamuttu in 2009. The Healthy Mind Project conducts seminars and awareness sessions on mental health promoting multi-racial understanding and mental wellbeing of the community in Kingston.

The Healthy Mind Project meets every Monday in Kingston. For more information, please contact the project coordinator, Sarva Kumararajah ([email protected]).