REACH Can Help Indo-Americans with Mental Illness

REACH Board (from left) Rajan Radhakrishnan, Vibha Agrawal, Ranjana Vadha Bedi and Alpa Shah.

By Ranjana Vadhva Bedi

HOUSTON: Mental Illness diagnosis and treatment has made considerable progress in the last decade but remains a taboo topic in the Indo-American (IA) community. Propelled by reports of an increase in mental illness in the IA community and a perceived reluctance among community members to openly discuss mental health issues, four concerned citizens have formed an organization in the Greater Houston area, to facilitate dialogue on mental illness.

Their aim is to show that mental illness is no different than physical illness, both being eminently treatable. Towards achieving this aim and with mental wellness as the goal, they have formed an organization called REACH for Resources, increase Education, create Awareness, connect with the IA Community in order to promote mental Health.

President Alpa Shah addressed the Health Fair at the Arya Samaj.

There is a saying “You are as healthy as your mind is”, which reflects the true importance of mental wellness. For those with mental illness, diagnosis and treatment pave the way to recovery and mental wellness. Just as people with physical illnesses lead productive lives, so can those with mental illnesses. REACH hopes to make inroads into the community so that Indo-Americans are encouraged to access mental health care resources. REACH will compile a
network of culturally attuned providers, making it easier and more comfortable to access care.

REACH was invited to participate in the annual Health Fair at the Arya Samaj of Greater Houston on Saturday, April 6. A seminar on “Mental Health Stigmatized? Recognize and Recover” was conducted by Dr. Renu Thomas, a licensed psychologist followed by a lively question and answer session, as well as private consultations. It was encouraging to note the participationlevel in these sessions, with no reluctance in discussing mental illness.

Through several initiatives, REACH will aim to remove the stigma of mental illness in our community by providing ample discussion opportunity and direction toward expert resources. The organization will target audiences such as middle and high schoolers, college students, parents, young professionals, seniors, singles and others. REACH will partner with other organizations that have similar goals, with coordinated plans to bring expert speakers in mental
health conditions such as depression, trauma, anxiety, loneliness, eating disorders.

President Alpa Shah explained the objectives of REACH.

To achieve openness and acceptance of mental health within the Houston Indo-American community, REACH will invite community leaders, temple heads, stakeholders and community members for support and to share the vision and mission of REACH. The official LAUNCH for REACH Mental Wellness will be on September 15 at Indian Summer Restaurant in Sugar Land. The Board of Directors of REACH consists of Alpa Shah (President), Vibha Agrawal (Treasurer) Rajan Radhakrishnan (Director of Communications) and Ranjana Vadha Bedi (Interim

If your organization would like to hold a session/discussion/talk/workshop at your facility, or if you are a mental health provider (psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor etc.) and wish to be included in the network of providers or expert speakers, please visit Communications via will be forwarded to the Board of Directors of REACH.