Gravesend charity breaking down cultural and language barriers around mental health and financial issues

A culturally sensitive listening and information service for the Asian community in Kent breaks down barriers to support those in need.

Rethink Sahayak, a non-profit organization based on Gravesend High Street, provides specialist services for ethnic minorities affected by mental health and money issues.

Community Workers and Rethink Sahayak with Rethink Mental Illness CEO Mark Winstanley and Chair of the Board of Trustees Kathryn Tyson

Rethink Sahayak, which means helpful in Hindi, was founded nearly 30 years ago, in 1996.

It operates under the auspices of the Rethink Metal Illness charity and acts as a bridge between mainstream services and those who may not have access to the support they need.

Speaking to KentOnline as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 15-21), the lead these days.


“Of course, today we’re responding to a lot of different, diverse communities, and that’s what makes it special.”

Unlike other mental health charities, Rethink Sahayak can answer calls through its hotline from people who speak Asian languages, including Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

Rethink the annual Sahayaka Health and Wellness Conference. Photo: Consistency plus

“There are many people who may not be able to access services – it may be cultural awareness, it may be language barriers.

“We were able to sort of navigate that and provide that accessibility.

“We’re at the heart of the community and it’s about working with and responding to their needs,” explains Carol.

At the center of the organization, Rethink Sayhayak aims to promote mental health awareness, encourage self-care and help prevent problems.

Carol added: “We help break the stigma and taboo around mental health.”

Don’t suffer in silence. There is help

The Kent charity provides assistance to those struggling in the towns of Gravesend, Medway, Dartford and Swanley.


Carol said: “Referrals come from different ways: by professionals, by voluntary sectors, by ourselves or by family members – we are able to respond and accept them.

“This help can be individual support, it can take place in a group, peer-led groups, we have student counseling placements, so there are many different activities that can take place.”

Over the past three decades, the charity has come across a variety of topics, all of which can lead to a deterioration in people’s mental health.

These may include, but are not limited to, domestic violence and violence as well as substance and alcohol abuse.

“We are able to work in partnership and work with different partner agencies as well – so it’s not about one charity fitting one size,” adds the service manager.

“We are able to work together to ensure that the person receives the right support – whether they are young or old or what background they come from, I am sure we can nurture them and help someone.”

Every year, Rethink Sahayak hosts a health and wellness event called “Listen Up”.

Rethink the past event of Sahayaka Sadi Awaz Suno in 2017

Carol said: “It used to be called Sadi Awaz Suno and was mainly for women, but certainly in the last two years and after covid we have expanded it to include different communities as well as men.

“We found that, in fact, after this event and after raising the number of nationally profiled cases and national speakers, we get a lot of referrals”

“What we need to continue to raise awareness is more people who have life experiences who are able to share their stories. It’s pretty strong.

“The success of reaching out is growing awareness.”

And for those who may be afraid to seek help, Carol says: “It takes a lot of courage to go to your GP or talk about it, but using the resources available can be done confidentially.

“Don’t suffer in silence. There’s help there.”

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