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Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S Hosted Mental Health Seminar in Jersey City

Exclusive: Jersey City, NJ – On June 30, 2024, Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S Against Sexual Violence, a countywide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing victim-centric services, hosted a pivotal mental health seminar aimed at addressing mental health issues within the South Asian American community. The event, held in collaboration with Training, Access Progress (TAP the Opportunity Org), Women for Cause (WFC), and Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S’ initiatives Bolo Behen (Speak Sister) and Voces Sin Fronteras (Voices without Borders), attracted over 100 participants.

Ms. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, M.A., Hon. DLitt., Program Director of Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S, inaugurated the event, highlighting the significance of mental health awareness and support within marginalized communities. Her address set the tone for a day of insightful discussions and expert presentations.

The seminar featured a panel of mental health experts who tackled various issues, including anxiety, depression, and suicide, emphasizing the importance of recognizing these problems and seeking professional help.

Mr. Dinesh Shrestha, M.Sc. Counseling, LPC, LCDC, a Clinical Therapist at Mind Therapy in Texas, discussed the prevalence of mental health issues in the South Asian community and the necessity for culturally sensitive mental health services.

Mr. Deepak Chaudhari, MPA, NYU, Community Engagement & Training Specialist at the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene, provided a historical overview of the mental health challenges faced by Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders, offering insights into the cultural and societal factors at play.

Ms. Mitsu Puri, M.A. Psychology, Columbia University, also a Community Engagement & Training Specialist at the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene, trained participants in mindfulness techniques and shared resources and strategies for accessing mental health care. Her presentation underscored the importance of community engagement and support networks.

Prof. Stacey Flanagan, Director of the Department of Health & Human Services for Jersey City, stressed the necessity of mental health programs, funding, and community outreach within the city. Ms. Keisher Harris, a staff member at the same department, provided information on citywide mental health resources and training opportunities.

Dr. Rakesh Ghimire, Assistant Professor and Project Head at the Nepal Poison Information Center, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, emphasized the critical need for mental health education and intervention in society.

Ms. Sumitra Manandhar, former Democracy, Rights, and Governance Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), provided a global perspective on mental health issues, highlighting the importance of international cooperation and support.

Ms. Renu Sharma, former president of Women for Cause (WFC), highlighted the seminar's focus on mental health issues and emphasized the community's need to engage in awareness activities.

Mr. Pradeep Thapa, IT Consultant at Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S and co-founder of Training, Access, Progress (TAP the Opportunity Org), introduced the distinguished mental health expert panelists.

The seminar was moderated by Ms. Ashika (Heera) Kandel, a Sexual Violence Advocate at Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S, Registered Nurse, and Secretary of Women for Cause (WFC).

During the seminar, artist Basanti Rai and choreographer Shiva BK performed a traditional Nepali dance, and Zara Reet Prasain sang a song to entertain the participants.

This seminar was a significant step towards fostering mental health awareness and support within the South Asian American community, reflecting Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S' commitment to addressing mental health issues within marginalized groups.

Mental Health Facts

Harvard University Report:


"An estimated 58 million American adults — more than one in five — live with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others. More women than men receive treatment such as medication or counseling for such issues." Source:

USAID Report:

"Worldwide, more than 80 percent of individuals with mental health conditions have little or no access to the care they require." Source:

World Health Organization (WHO) Report:

"In 2019, 970 million people globally were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depression being the most common." Source:

Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S Against Sexual Violence is dedicated to creating safer communities and supporting survivors' healing. The organization is committed to inclusivity, focusing on uplifting marginalized identities through diversity initiatives, culturally relevant advocacy, and trauma-informed services. They serve all survivors of sexual assault over the age of 13, regardless of gender, race, religion, financial status, immigration status, educational background, gender identity, or sexual preference. Their services extend to family members, marital/dating partners, and friends.

Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S aims to end sexual violence through education, awareness, empowerment, support, and advocacy for all affected individuals.

The Mental Health seminar by Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S was a significant event that addressed crucial mental health issues within the South Asian American community. It underscored the need for culturally sensitive mental health services and ongoing community engagement to support mental well-being. The insights shared by the panelists and guest speakers provided valuable perspectives and resources, highlighting the importance of regular mental health programs and international cooperation to address these pervasive issues.



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