Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness

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NAMI NJ Multicultural Outreach Initiative documentary video, 20-minute Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences...


Documenting Our Presence

Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness is a compassionate, hopeful look at the experiences of people of diverse backgrounds, affected by serious mental illness.

The documentary traces their lives through a cultural lens, focusing on the onset of mental illness, the process of coping and acceptance, and finally, their journey to recovery.

All these stories, diverse as their backgrounds, are linked together in segments that flow naturally through the video and bookmark the various stages along the journey towards wellness and recovery.

NAMI NJ is grateful to all participants of this documentary for sharing their stories and helping to promote a better understanding of the experience of mental illness and the journey of recovery.

This documentary was produced as a NAMI NJ Multicultural Outreach Initiative with the support of NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness and NJ Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services. The mission of NAMI NJ Multicultural Programs is to improve the lives of people from all cultures who are affected by mental illness through support, education and advocacy.

Omusha Communications is the producer of this documentary. To learn more about Omusha Communications, visit their website at

Visit NAMI NJ Store for online ordering information.

SAMHAJ (South Asian)

SAMHAJ (Understanding Mental Health)

provides support, education and advocacy for South Asians affected by serious mental illness. South Asians of Asian Indian and Pakistani origin, as well as those from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives are welcome to seek support and information from SAMHAJ. The lotus is a symbol of creation, purity, spontaneity, and diving beauty in South Asian culture.

SAMHAJ Facebook Page

Download SAMHAJ Brochure


SAMHAJ provides:
• Support for families and individuals affected by mental illness through support groups, and referrals to bilingual and culturally competent mental health services. We offer a supportive environment to help you and your family to learn to navigate the often complicated mental health system. Our South Asian staff and volunteers speak Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Gujarati, Konkani, and Marathi.

• Professional guest speakers are invited to speak at educational workshops and lectures on issues that are important to your family’s journey towards recovery. Workshops cover subjects such as psychiatric medication, social security disability, rehabilitation and vocational training, coping with caregiver stress and anxiety, children’s mental health and many more topics.

• Workshops for mental health providers, other social service agencies and schools seeking to learn more about the rapidly growing South Asian community in New Jersey in order to provide culturally competent services.

• Volunteer opportunities for people interested in giving back to the community through service. Contact for more information.

SAMHAJ has compiled referral lists of bilingual mental health providers in order to benefit South Asian families and individuals seeking bilingual services. This referral list is made available to people with mental illness, families and providers free of cost. Please note that NAMI NJ and its SAMHAJ program do not recommend or guarantee services from any provider or facility on the referral list.

To access SAMHAJ Referral List click here.

Another organization has provided an alternate provider list. To access SAMHIN Provider List click here.

South Asian Mental health providers seeking to promote awareness, increase cultural competence, promote networking and dialogue.

To download a professional Provider Involved List click here.



SAMHAJ Central Jersey
Support Group
SAMHAJ North Jersey
Support Group
1st Thursday of the month
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
NAMI NJ office, 1562 Route 130, North Brunswick, NJ 08902
1st Sunday of the month
2:00 pm- 4:00 pm
Location: Morristown and Morris Township Library,
1 Miller Rd, Morristown, NJ 07960


  • Hearts & Minds Presentation on March 5th at 7pm at the NAMI NJ Office, 1562 US-130, North Brunswick

  • Multicultural Picnic on Saturday, July 11th, 11am - 4pm, at Thompson Park Grove 4AB, Perrineville Rd. & Schoolhouse Rd, Monroe
  • “Does Your Psychiatrist Make House Calls? Inpathy Telepsychiatry Does,” Presented by Jim Flynn on January 3, in North Brunswick

  • "Holistic Fitness and Wellness Workshop," Presented by Rachita Rochlani, on February 3, at Parsippany Troy Hills Library, NJ

  • "Active Life for a Health Mind," Presented by Mattew Miller, on April 4, in North Brunswick

  • "Power of Poetry" Workshop by Jacquese Armstrong, on May 2, in North Brunswick

  • Picnic - August 3, Thompson Park, Monroe

  • Accessing Appropriate Housing and Creative Housing Options, by S. Paul Prior, Hinkle, Fingles, Prior & Fischer, Attorneys At Law, on September 5, in North Brunswick

  • What does “stress” mean to you? By Neha Mistry, on September 8, at Morristown and Morris Township Library

  • SAMHAJ Annual Celebration on November 16 at Crown of India, Plainsboro, NJ

  • Group discussion on resources and services available in the state of NJ for special needs adults & kids, By Subha Bolisetty & Radha Kasinadhuni, on December 5, in North Brunswick

  • The Importance of Finding Meaning on March 1, North Brunswick

  • Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga on April 5, North Brunswick

  • How Medicare & Medicaid works - A presentation by Medicare Representative: Krishan Bhasin on May 3, North Brunswick

  • SAMHAJ Picnic on August 18, at Thompson Park, Monroe, NJ

  • ABLE Account - a presentation on October 4, North Brunswick

  • SAMHAJ Celebration Party on October 27 at Crown of India, Princeton Meadows Shopping Center, NJ

Slides for the Presentations on

Presenter: Dr. Jagwinder Sandu



• SAMHAJ Brochure

• SAMHAJ highlight of the”Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness“, an educational video by NAMI NJ. (Click here for more information about the complete video.)

Multicultural Outreach

As a self-help organization, NAMI NJ is especially sensitive to the concept of mutual caring and responsibility implicit in family relationships and reaching out in that context to families from various cultures that are affected by serious mental illness. NAMI NJ has gained considerable expertise in the area of multi-cultural outreach and program development. AACT-NOW (African American), CAMHOP (Chinese), NAMI En Español (Latino) and SAMHAJ (South Asian) are four NAMI NJ innovative multi-cultural support and education programs that outreach to African American, Chinese, Latino and  South Asian families. The programs also provide education for mental health professionals to help them better understand cultural and treatment issues relevant to these populations.

NAMI NJ Received the 2014 American Psychiatric Foundation Award for Advancing Minority Mental Health


See each program below for support group information.


AACT-NOW (African American Mental Health Outreach) 

AACT-NOW is a NAMI NJ initiative serving New Jersey’s African American communities which include individuals and families affected by mental illness, the faith community, and mental health professionals. AACT-NOW provides culturally competent support, education and advocacy in the northern, central and southern regions of New Jersey, through free services such as support groups, phone referral, community workshops and other outreach activities.


CAMHOP-NJ (Chinese American Mental Health Outreach Program in New Jersey)

CAMHOP-NJ is a NAMI NJ initiative to help people of Chinese origin (including immigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and their descendants) in New Jersey gain better understanding about mental illness as a biological based and treatable disease. Our free services include support groups, referral services, advocacy, NAMI Family-to-Family Education Course in Chinese, community workshops, and educational materials in Chinese.


NAMI NJ en Español

NAMI NJ en Español is an awareness & education program developed by NAMI NJ serving the Hispanic/Latino community in New Jersey. It offers local self-help support groups, referral services, NAMI Family-to-Family Education Course in Spanish, community workshops, and other outreach activities.


SAMHAJ (South Asian Mental Health Awareness in Jersey)

SAMHAJ is a NAMI NJ initiative to help South Asians (of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Afghan and Bhutanese origin) in New Jersey understand that mental illness is a biologically based and treatable illness. Our free services include support groups, referral services, advocacy, community workshops, and other outreach activities. This program won the NAMI 2002 Multicultural Award.


NAMI NJ Documentary “Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness

Documenting Our Presence: Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness” was produced in 2007 as a NAMI NJ Multicultural Outreach Initiative with the support of NAMI – National Alliance of Mental Illness and NJ Division of Mental Health Services. This documentary is a compassionate, hopeful look at the experiences of people of diverse backgrounds, affected by serious mental illness. It traces their lives through a cultural lens, focusing on the onset of mental illness, the process of coping and acceptance, and finally, their journey to recovery. To order a copy please visit NAMI NJ Store.


Recommended Material:

Health Beliefs Toolkit
Concha, M, Villar, M.E., & Azevedo, L, (2014) Health Attitudes and Beliefs Tool Kit, Technical Assistance Network for Children’s Behavioral Health, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD.


Mission & History

Our Mission

NAMI New Jersey (NAMI NJ) is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Through education, support, advocacy and public awareness programs NAMI NJ fosters understanding about mental illness, confronts stigma often associated with mental disorders, advocates for public policies that benefit those affected by mental illness, and promotes research into the causes, treatment and recovery of mental health disorders.


Our History

NAMI NJ was founded in 1985 by a group of concerned New Jersey family members who had loved ones with mental illness. At a time following the years of “Deinstitutionalization,” when care for persons affected by mental illness was severely fragmented, this group of family volunteers came together for mutual support, education and empowerment. They advocated for improved treatment and living conditions, not only for their own ill family member, but for all people affected by mental illness. From these modest formative years has steadily grown our present organization, composed of dedicated volunteers in our 21 local County Affiliates.

In January 1992, NAMI NJ hired an Executive Director and part time clerical staff. Over the past 23 years the organization’s staff has grown to include 8 full time staff and over 10 part-time program coordinator and outreach positions. The partnership between staff and statewide volunteers has resulted in an ever-increasing number of NAMI NJ volunteers trained to assess the quality of care offered to clients in our mental health agencies and to patients in our State Hospitals. NAMI NJ has trained and empowered volunteers to become family educators, support group facilitators, vocal legislative advocates, and recovery-oriented presenters. NAMI NJ staff and volunteers serve on major governmental policy stake-holder committees.

In responding to the mental health needs of children, adults and families from all economic and cultural backgrounds NAMI NJ has developed and initiated a broad array of support, education and advocacy programs. NAMI NJ is noted for outstanding cultural outreach, public education and anti-stigma programs. The organization and its leadership have received numerous recognitions and awards for their accomplishments. These accomplishments include award winning Videos – “Documenting Our Presence, Multicultural Experiences of Mental Illness” and “Communities We Serve, Law Enforcement Training.” As New Jersey’s designated NIMH Outreach Partner, NAMI NJ is the primary resource for information on mental illness and support for NJ’s citizens.

Since 2005 NAMI NJ has worked to establish a link with public schools and have developed a key partnership with the NJ Department of Education to provide K-12 educators with “Educating the Educators” (ETE) professional development about mental illness and strategies for building their skills to enhance classroom management. In 2009 NAMI NJ developed the “Every Mind Matters” (EMM) Program in response to the alarming upsurge in the incidence of suicide, bullying, depression, and failing mental health in middle and high school students. NAMI NJ has currently working on developing initiatives to outreach to Veterans and their families.