Nepali community in Australia observe World Mental Health Day, community leaders learn Mental Health First Aid

Mental health illustration

Marking World Mental Health Day 2020 and Mental Health Month (October), the Nepali community of Australia engaged in a productive discussion on mental health and the issues that rotate around sound mental health.

The program incorporated two components – first the observation of the World Mental Health and the second being a Mental Health First Aid lesson for Nepali community leaders.

The first component was moderated by Nirajan Gauli, President of Australia Nepal Public Link (ANPL), who shared shocking statistics in relation to the prevalence of mental health issues in our society and the globe. Mr. Gauli’s revelations were an eye-opener for many.

He shared key points relating to the high suicide rate in Nepal, and across the globe. He also highlighted the point of a high ratio of Nepali women committing suicide in comparison to the statistics in developed countries, and said he hoped to hear the findings of NHRC National Mental Wellbeing survey 2019-2021.

The second component was officially started with a welcome speech by Bharat Nepal, founding president and Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

The program, organised virtually, was attended by numerous members of the community including several distinguished leaders. H.E. Mahesh Raj Dahal, Nepali Ambassador to Australia who was the chief-guest of the program highlighted the feelings of anxiety, depression, and psychosis experienced within the community, especially amongst international students. He also spoke of the associated stigma, and said much more could be done on the subject. H.E. Dahal acknowledged the good deeds done by ANPL.

The event’s key note speech was delivered by Emeritus Professor Anthony Jorm who pointed out that ‘mental illness is much more common than people think of’. He referred to the data that ‘one in five adults in Australia experience some form of mental illness in any given year, and that this data was before the pandemic. “From August onward, the incidents of mental illness has gone up”, he stressed on the importance of mental health.

Professor Jorm said he was honoured to share his experience, and added that ANPL is asssessing the incidence of mental illness within the Nepali community.

Honorary Consul General of Nepal to Victoria Mr. Chandra Yonzon thanked ANPL for organising a much needed program for the community, and encouraged the society to continue such good work.

Keshav Kandel, President of NRNA Australia stated that he was shocked to learn the figures about mental illness and suicide when he did some preliminary research on the topic. Mr. Kandel appreciated and acknowledged the work ANPL has done in mental health in Australia and expressed his wish to work in collaboration in the future.

ANMDA President Dr. Chandra Deepak Pokharel who is also a practicing GP in Melbourne shared his experience in providing care. ANMDA CEO Punam Panta stated that all Nepali community leaders who are providing support to community members need to do Mental Health First Aid so that we are competent to provide support and that we do not inadvertently hurt a person who is suffering from mental illness.

Honorary Consulate General of Nepal to NSW Deepak Khadka humbly stated that much needed to be done in the mental health area. He also acknowledged that he has attended several programs organized by ANPL in the past and is ever thankful to them for their persistent efforts.

Honorary Consulate General of Nepal to SA Dipak Dhamala congratulated all and hoped that more of such programs will be brought to Nepali community.