South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) hosted the first ever national Conference into attitudes to Mental Health in the Sikh Community on Wednesday, April 26 at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Bedford.
More than 150 delegates attended, mainly from the Sikh Community and Gudwara’s around the country to find out more about how they can address the needs within their culture and find solutions to the stigma that often surrounds Mental Health sufferers in the Sikh faith.
SEPT chief executive Dr Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: “This first conference for the Sikh Community has been an excellent beginning to the work we are doing in helping to raise awareness within different Faith Communities about Mental Health.
“Often sufferers can face resistance from their faith leaders or denial about the condition, as well as stigma within their society.
“It is well documented that one in four people will suffer from a Mental Health condition within their lifetime and so we need people, from whatever background, belief or culture to not only be aware of this but also to be able to openly seek help and support.”
The delegates heard from faith leaders, healthcare professionals and service users about Mental Health conditions, treatments and attitudes within the Sikh Community.
Sadhu Gill - chairman of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Bedford, said: “This was without doubt the most important conference for the Sikh community to start addressing the taboos and mental health stigma and discrimination that blights the lives of so many Sikhs, particularly women and children.
“It is a staggering fact that this year alone some 200,000 Sikhs in the UK of every background will have at least one diagnosable episode of mental illness.
"The message that we want to send out loud and clear to the Sikh community is that mental illness affects all communities regardless of status, class, gender or age and that with timely and appropriate support most people can recover completely or can manage the illness to go on to live a full and fulfilling lives. There is nothing to be ashamed about mental illness.”
SEPT plan to hold similar events for other faith communities in future.