Ayesha Jabbar understands the compounded reality of being a young South Asian Canadian with a mental illness too well.
Ayesha, who grew up in North America but whose parents are from India, was diagnosed with depression at age 15. For a long time before the diagnosis, her older brother had been developing symptoms of psychosis but was un-diagnosed. Because of stigma, her father, himself a mental health worker, was hesitant to seek outside help for her brother who later was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Ayesha kept her own issues “under wraps” because, in her experience, depression was not considered a legitimate health issue in the South Asian community.
It is because of Ayesha and other racialized youth that Dr. Taryn Tang and Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) is embarking on an groundbreaking study which examine the effects of stigma and discrimination on youth living with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. And they need participants — especially from the GTA’s South Asian community — aged 16 to 24 years, both who are and are not living with schizophrenia or depression.
They would also like to speak with their family members about the challenges that exist in their lives because of stigma. Confidential interviews are available in English, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi.
“Currently, we know very little about the experiences of young people from ethno-racial communities who are living with schizophrenia and depression in Ontario,” said Mary Alberti, CEO of the SSO. “By better understanding their experiences, we hope to develop more effective anti-stigma programs and educational resources and increase access to services and supports.”
With early diagnosis and treatment, there are good prospects for recovery and independent life.
“This research will bridge the gaps in knowledge and services when it comes to ethno-racial communities, something that is of paramount importance to the SSO,” Alberti continued. No other studies of this kind have been undertaken in Ontario.
The research is led by the SSO’s Dr. Taryn Tang and is in partnership with the Hispanic Development Council, Across Boundaries, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario is providing the majority of the funding.
To participate in this landmark study, please call Nadira Sheralam at 1-800-449-6367 ext 260 or Email
. Each research participant will receive $30 cash compensation in appreciation of their time.