snapshot of SOCH
Jasmeet Chagger and Maneet Chahal are two passionate change-makers from the city of Brampton who are driven to break the mental health stigma within the South Asian community. However….before any of this, they are best friends who have known each other since they were 13 years old. Having struggled with the mental health challenges of close family and friends during their adolescent years, both Jasmeet and Maneet became very interested in psychology, mental health and the behavioural patterns that different people display when faced with particular situations. They both pursued nursing for their undergraduate degree.
how it all started
They both began their mental health nursing journey within the hospital setting and then continued their path of mental health nursing into the community, working on ACT Teams.
This community experience shed light onto the immeasurable mental health disparities within South Asian households. They continued to witness their South Asian clients, who had been in the mental health system for years, to lack mental health knowledge and continue to face considerable stigma from their community. While reflecting on this reality, they wondered if people within the mental health system are struggling, then what is happening to a majority of the community who are falling through the cracks and not engaged with mental health supports?
They both sat back realizing no… we have to do something…we need to change our community’s SOCH about mental health!
SOCH’s first workshop was conducted in April of 2015 with the encouragement of Harman Grewal, Co-Founder of Lab B, a coworking space located in downtown Brampton. With a passion to stir up change, both Jasmeet and Maneet took the leap of faith conducting their first mental health workshop on “Addressing Mental Health in Brampton”. They had an amazing turnout of 20-30 family and friends.
Since then, both trailblazers have continued on the path of mental health promotion by conducting community workshops on various mental illnesses, crisis intervention, coping strategies, stigma deconstruction, mental health service navigation, and empowering community members with tips and strategies to speak to loved ones. Along with doing monthly workshops, first in partnership with Lab B and then Brampton Library, they have spoken at Gurdwaras, community events, and public schools.
Most exciting of all, their efforts have created an opportunity with the Sikh Channel, where they launched their own TV show called Apni SOCH.
our path to SOCH
Jasmeet and Maneet recognize the need for more culturally tailored interventions for the South Asian community. This is why both Registered Nurses began graduate school at McMaster University in the Master of Science in Nursing thesis-stream program. Jasmeet’s thesis examines the intergenerational perceptions of alcohol use and the impact of problem drinking on South Asian Punjabi families, meanwhile Maneet completed her degree in 2018 with a thesis that focused on studying the South Asian Punjabi community’s experience of having accessed mental health services for depression in Brampton.
This path of South Asian mental health awareness was laid when both these two best friends first built a bond over how their loved ones struggle with a mental illness.
2 women who wanted to
make a difference in their community
Jasmeet’s interest in mental health began at a young age when she witnessed a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction. Growing up in a South Asian Punjabi culture meant that Jasmeet’s family members did not openly discuss their feelings or personal problems due to the stigma associated with mental health concerns and the fear of judgment from the community. This resulted in a lack of communal support, isolation and confusion about how to help the family member who was struggling and strongly needed professional assistance.
The personal experience of struggling to understand familial mental health problems while haphazardly navigating the mental health system strengthened Jasmeet’s passion for this area and she pursued a career as a mental health and addictions nurse in the Region of Peel.
Maneet’s passion for mental health sparked at a young age when she witnessed her loved ones to be battling with anxiety and depression. Through her nursing studies, Maneet has held a special interest in culturally safe care and ensuring that professional interventions were resonating with the values and beliefs of each individual. It was her international nursing placement in Southern India, that opened her eyes to the extreme mental health disparities within South Asian communities.
With kicking off her career at Sunnybrook Hospital and then working on an ACT Team in Brampton, she realized how badly her community needed help. One night, frustrated and passionate to bring change, she called her best friend, Jasmeet, which was the start of this powerful initiative.