CAMH to develop therapy geared toward South Asians

Canada’s largest mental health hospital is developing a specialized form of psychotherapy that will be catered toward Canadians of South Asian origin.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto says it hopes to have a culturally adapted manual on the specialized form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — or CBT — as well as a therapist training package ready by November.

CAMH psychiatrist Dr. Farooq Naeem says he will be consulting with patients, caregivers, mental health professionals and community leaders on the project.

He says evidence shows that CBT is as good as medications to treat depression and anxiety, as well as to prevent relapse.

But he says data also shows that CBT does not work as well with people from non-western cultural backgrounds.

Naeem says CBT becomes far more effective when it is adapted for other cultural contexts.

He says he hopes the culturally-adapted CBT will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health for South Asians and encourage members of the community to seek help if needed.

A one million dollar grant from Health Canada is helping to fund the CAMH project.

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