Oldham’s Shree Swaminarayan Mandir temple has announced it is hosting a wellbeing event to challenge mental health stigmas in South Asian communities.

The gathering has been organised by the temple’s Yuvak Mandal youth group, which is committed to serving the community.

The Yuvak Mandal has organised a dedicated session in partnership with local wellbeing charities in an effort to address mental health concerns amongst the temple's congregation.

Devisha Vekria, a member of the Yuvak Mandal committee, said: “It’s so important to address mental health within our community and emphasise the need for accessible support networks.

“I have seen first-hand how mental health stigma can affect us, especially in older generations.

“I live with three generations of my family and I’m really aware of how my grandad doesn’t talk about his feelings and keeps everything bottled up.

The Oldham Times: The Shree Swaminarayan Mandir is located on Copster Hill RoadThe Shree Swaminarayan Mandir is located on Copster Hill Road (Image: Inked PR)

“Things are changing and improving slowly but there are a lot of families who face difficulties and don’t know where to turn. We wanted to do something to help educate the community about what support is available to them.”

The event is set to take place at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir on Saturday, February 24 at 7pm and will feature guest speaker Madhubhen Thaker, the founder of Anmol Cancer Support Group and a volunteer at the Tameisde, Oldham and Glossop (TOG) branch of Mind, a leading mental health charity.

Karen Hughes, a representative from TOG Mind, said: “TOG Mind strives to enable everyone in our communities to achieve better mental health.

“We actively seek to provide awareness to the public and groups through our new Mental Health Awareness sessions, aiming to tackle the stigma around mental health, and promote ways to wellbeing.

“We are proud to be working with the community of the Oldham Temple.” 

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Shree Swaminarayan Mandir originally opened in 1977 and its role as a community centre has grown after the new £7 million Oldham location opened in August 2022.

The temple is working currently with Saheli, a charity aiming to provide support and refuge from domestic abuse to women from Black, Asian and minority communities and their children.

Anil Kara, a trustee of the temple, said: “Shree Swaminarayan Mandir has been steadily evolving into a community space in Oldham and as a community space, it is important to promote mental wellbeing to help those members of our community who need that support.

“Mental health isn’t something that only affects one group of people, and it is essential that every generation knows that we support them.

“This is a significant step towards enhancing our community support networks and we really hope it will help those struggling to break past the stigma to seek the help they need and deserve to have access to.”

The temple's Yuvak Mandal plays a key role in community engagement through various programmes including educational sessions on Hinduism, interfaith forums, and outreach initiatives.

The Oldham Times: Young people attending the temple play a role in community engagementYoung people attending the temple play a role in community engagement (Image: Inked PR)

Secretary of the temple, Vinod Vekaria, said: “The Yuvak Mandal has done a brilliant job contributing to the temple’s vitality and engaging with the community.

“The upcoming wellness event is a testament to how forward thinking they are. They’re so committed to addressing contemporary issues that have become commonplace in the community.

“I’m proud to have them working to build the community engagement we’re known for and being so proactive when doing so.”