New in-person counselling service launched for Calgary's Punjabi community

·2 min read
South Asians in northeast Calgary can now access immediate help in their own language from someone who understands their culture and experiences.
South Asians in northeast Calgary can now access immediate help in their own language from someone who understands their culture and experiences.

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A new partnership between a Calgary Sikh temple and a local not-for-profit is helping the city's Punjabi community access mental health support.

Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) is offering private in-person counselling at the Dashmesh Culture Centre in northeast Calgary in response to an increase in demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

People struggling with mental health and addictions can access help from someone who speaks their own language and knows where they're coming from culturally.

Those factors can make it easier for people to access help when they need it and feel more comfortable discussing their problems.

"With COVID, people are dealing with a lot of mental health, addictions and family issues," said Nina Saini with PCHS.

Saini says basing counsellors inside the Sikh temple allows people to access help in the same place they go for spiritual support and prayer.

"While they're getting their spiritual support they can now access mental and emotional support," said Saini.

The Dashmesh Culture Centre has been on Martindale Boulevard N.E. since 1989. The organization has been in Calgary for 40 years.
The Dashmesh Culture Centre has been on Martindale Boulevard N.E. since 1989. The organization has been in Calgary for 40 years.

The Dashmesh Culture Centre has been on Martindale Boulevard N.E. since 1989. The organization has been in Calgary for 40 years.

Counsellors are based at the Dashmesh Culture Centre on Monday, Friday and Sunday.

Counselling takes place in a private room and is confidential.

"The language component is important. People need to communicate their feelings and to do that in the language that they are comfortable in," said Saini.

Saini says the cultural understanding and sensitivity is another big part of making it easier for people to come forward and get help.

"Whether it's family dynamics or other stressors, it helps to have that familiarity and understanding of where a person is coming from and then feeling understood," she said.

Saini says the focus is on staying safe and staying home right now but it's also important to make sure people are safe and well mentally while they're at home.

"Looking after that piece, how people are doing while they are isolated and not connected is important because it brings about lots of emotional and family issues," she said.

People can call PCHS at 587-500-5630 to book a time slot to meet with a counsellor confidentially.

COVID-19 measures are in place at the temple, including plexiglass dividers and required protective equipment.