Aruna Rao will be presenting at this years In My Mind Conference held in October in New York: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-in-my-mind-peoples-of-color-mental-health-conference-registration-43936929539
Aruna Rao is a community mental health advocate, grassroots organizer, speaker and writer. She is currently an Associate Director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Jersey (NAMI NJ). Aruna is the founder of SAMHAJ, the first program in the USA to provide support and education for South Asian Americans affected by mental illness. She has been instrumental in developing programs for immigrants affected by mental illness in New Jersey, and her efforts have resulted in NAMI NJ receiving the 2014 Advancing Minority Mental Health Award from the American Psychiatric Foundation. Her work in mental health has been recognized by the World Malayalee Council NJ Chapter, the NJ Department of Transportation Asian American Heritage Committee and Lions Club NJ. She received the 2014 Agraj Seva Kendra Notable Indian Americans of New Jersey Award, the 2011 South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Changemaker Award, the 2003 Leadership Award from the NJ Asian American Association for Human Services, and the 2002 National Multicultural Outreach Award from NAMI. She has served on the NAMI Diversity & Inclusion Workgroup and the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH) Outreach Partner Steering Committee. She makes frequent presentations on mental health to community and professional groups.
As the proud mother of a queer and transgender child, Aruna is passionate about advancing LGBTQ+ rights. She recognizes the urgent need for family acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in API and South Asian communities and is dedicated to creating a loving, inclusive world where LGBTQ+ people are welcomed into community spaces. Aruna serves on the steering committee of API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC, and is the founder of Desi Rainbow Parents & Allies, a group developed to support South Asian parents of LGBTQ+ children. She speaks about family acceptance in community and professional settings and has been featured on podcasts and in newspaper articles.