The funeral home offers mental health support to students | Breaking News Updates

The funeral home offers mental health support to students

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The owners of an Ontario-based funeral home business have started a mental health support group for international students after noticing a surprising increase in suicides among those coming from India to study.

Owner Kamal Bhardwaj told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday that he noticed that the number of student suicides has steadily increased over the past two years. After helping the families organize the funeral, Bhardwaj said he had to find a way to help.

“Some of these parents don’t believe their loved one is dead and even some of them go on a hunger strike until they see their loved one come back, so it breaks my heart and I had to do something “said Bhardwaj.

Bhardwaj launched a mental health support group last summer, in partnership with Punjabi Community Health Services in Brampton, Ont., For international students called Sunoh Charity, which means “to listen” in Hindi.

He explained that the group strives to sensitize and educate international students about the mental health resources available to them and how they can get help, in addition to resources about the institution and success while studying in Canada.

About 4,000 people commit suicide each year in Canada, but it is not known how many of them are international students or recent graduates.

India’s High Commissioner to Canada said during an April webinar hosted by Sahyog Canada, a community that supports Indian international students in crisis, that eight Indian international students have committed suicide since 2020, including two. in 2021.

Hearing this, Bhardwaj said he reached out to other members of the community to better understand what was happening with Indian international students.

Bhardwaj found that when these international students come to Canada, they are “very overwhelmed” and isolated.

“A lot of them don’t have the support system for their families because they come from small villages, families have sold part of their farm or their assets to bring them here… and they fall into situations terrible and they don’t know how to get out of it, ”Bhardwaj said.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of international students in Canada increased from 410,585 in 2016 to 638,960 in 2019, of which about 34% are from India.

Through focus groups, Bhardwaj learned that there is great pressure on Indian international students to send money home to their parents to cover debt, and pressure to keep a job while studying for pay their bills and be able to continue in school.

A recent report from the nonprofit One Voice Canada found that international students were pushed to the brink during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the economic and social impact of the pandemic further exacerbating these problems.

Bhardwaj said these newcomers also struggle with the new culture and language when they arrive in Canada and don’t know what their rights are or where to get help when they need it.

Bhardwaj said international students are in a “gray area” as they are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents and struggle to find accessible and affordable supports. This is something that Bhardwaj says needs to be addressed by governments to help prevent suicides.

“These international students contribute billions of dollars to the economy, so I would love to see dollars going to the federal and provincial level to help these people,” he said.

However, Bhardwaj said it is important for international students to know that there are independent organizations, such as Sunoh Charity, that are able to provide assistance in times of crisis.

“We understand cultures and speak their languages,” he said. “We want them to know that we are there 24/7 for them, and we will help them.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources available.

Suicide Prevention Help Line in Canada (1-833-456-4566)

Center for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

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