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Panel explores stigmas that come with seeking psychological help in Armenian community

October 31, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Some Armenian Americans can be reluctant to seek psychological help, but an event slated for Saturday featuring a panel of experts and doctors will try to dispel some of the stigmas and myths sometimes associated with seeking assistance during a time of need.

The event, to be held at the Elks Lodge, is spearheaded by members of the Armenian advisory board for Pacific Clinics, an organization that provides services and treatment to people suffering from substance abuse and mental illness.

Organizers, including Suzanne Douzmanian, who is chair of the Armenian advisory board, are hopeful the event will offer “constructive conversation” on topics such as mental-health issues, family relationships and domestic violence within the Armenian American community.

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The purpose of the event, she said, is so “everybody can sit down and say, ‘We need to talk about this.'”

The panel of experts will also address the behavior of at-risk youth, in addition to relationships and divorce and relationships among parents, children and grandparents.

Viken Yacoubian, a psychology professor at Woodbury University and licensed marriage and family psychologist, will lead a conversation on the challenges that immigrants face when they assimilate into a new culture.

He said it is healthy for residents to feel empowered by one's ethnic heritage, but not be isolated by it.

“To be able to talk about the challenges as well as ways to achieve that balance … of being Armenian and American at the same time is a healthy kind of a process, to know one will go through these challenges and one is not alone going through these challenges,” Yacoubian said.

Aghop Der-Karabetian, a psychology professor at the University of La Verne, plans to deliver the keynote address.

He said some members of the Armenian American community can be hesitant to seek psychological help to address mental health challenges, and he was grateful the organizers have “purposefully” targeted the community to discuss concerns.

“It is not uncommon … to be somewhat reluctant to seek help,” he said. “There's a stigma associated with it and that's basically the challenge that we need to overcome.”

The Elks Lodge is located at 120 E. Colorado St. in Glendale. The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the cost is $15 for adults and $10 for students. To RSVP for the event, call Emma Oshagan at Pacific Clinics at (626) 744-5230, ext. 1-209.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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