Dealing with grief and loss


A community foundation aims to support those coming to terms with bereavement

The Harman Foundation recently organised a seminar on mental health and wellbeing at the Dennis Johnson Library, Stanhope Gardens. This seminar was attended by around 70 people and its primary focus was to raise awareness of mental health issues, the impact on individuals and families as well as where and how to obtain help.

The Harman Foundation was founded in memory of Harman Preet Singh who died in 2012 after a car accident. Harman came to Australia in 1991 and faced many challenges being a Sikh boy in a vastly different community. He was passionate about serving the community through his humble nature and actions. His memory continues to give strength to the community to live life with humility, selfless love and gratitude.

The aim of the Foundation is to offer support to families who experience grief and loss caused by death, or disability caused through accident.

President of the Harman Foundation, Manjinder Singh outlined the foundation’s purpose in raising awareness of mental health issues related to grief and loss, and promoting the values of family and other support structures. The Harman Foundation also provides financial assistance to families in need through various fundraising activities, he explained.

Singh also thanked Amrit Versha for her support to Harman’s family in their time of grief which enabled the family to stay strong and ride through the difficult and emotional period.

Speaking at the event, Versha, a consultant in the community services sector, told seminar participants about how trauma can lead to depression and anxiety and is a clinical illness requiring treatment. She discussed organisations which offer support through trauma counselling.

Versha provided an example of an Afghan lady who lost three of her children, returned to her country and set up a centre which provides support to people who suffer the tragic loss of their loved ones. This lady found new meaning in life by devoting herself to this noble cause. Versha highlighted how immersing oneself in service, and seeking new avenues of addressing these difficult issues, can help in the recovery of those who are faced with grief and loss.

Dr Lubna Naaz, Consultant Physician at Mackenzie House Specialist Centre, Windsor, is a specialist in psychiatry. Dr Naaz started her speech by reminding everyone that depression and anxiety are clinical illnesses just like diabetes and other chronic diseases, and similarly they need regular treatment and management. Treatment for depression and anxiety can include talking therapies and if need be, can be managed using medical drugs (just as in the case of diabetes).

Dr Naaz also explained that depression and anxiety are treatable conditions which affect nearly one in four females and one in six males. She also explained the physical impact on the body, why it happens, the contributing factors, why treatment is necessary and other considerations in overcoming this dreadful illness.

A senior counsellor in mental health services, Kalpana Sriram led an interactive discussion on what stress is, when it becomes a problem, sources of stress and how to manage stress through nutrition, exercise and relaxation. She also shared various resources produced by the Transcultural Mental Health Centre.

Sarabjit Singh Paul was the MC on the day and outlined the history of this charitable organisation. The foundation was incorporated late last year with an announcement at Gurdwara Sahib, Glenwood, followed by its official public launch by Michelle Rowland, Federal Member for Greenway, at Bowman Hall, Blacktown in July.

Attendees at the seminar generously donated $350 for children suffering with mental health issues at Westmead Children’s Hospital.