Naveed Arif Iqball Award
Recognizing innovative approaches to reducing mental health stigma.
Recognizing innovative approaches to reducing mental health stigma.
Raising mental health awareness and reducing stigma is a community-wide effort that includes both interdisciplinary work as well as the creativity, drive, and passion of community members.
The Naveed Arif Iqball Award for Mental Health Advocacy and Stigma Reduction promotes and enhances innovative stigma reduction efforts through a $2,000 grant that will further these endeavors. The purpose of this grant is to support new, innovative, and even experimental approaches to tackling mental health stigma within Washtenaw County, particularly targeting young adults (i.e. high school age up to 26 years old). Stigma reduction efforts can take many forms and applicants are encouraged to be creative in their approaches.
The award is led by the Eisenberg Family Depression Center. Support for this award is provided by the Naveed Arif Iqball Endowment Fund established by Mr. Arif Iqball AM, MBA ’95 of Kyoto, Japan in memory of his son, Naveed Arif Iqball, BS ‘15. Believing that stigma prevented Naveed from sharing his struggles with his family, coworkers or friends and from seeking treatment, Mr. Iqball expressed a desire to support efforts to reduce stigma in our communities.
Hannah Becker, a Clinical Science doctoral student at the University of Michigan, created a podcast Syllabus for Overcoming Stigma featuring interviewees aged 18-28 from Washtenaw County who shared their personal stories and experiences with mental illness.
Within six months of launch, the podcast has shared seven unique stories, covering a range of topics from bipolar disorder to gender dysphoria and depression to medical trauma and anxiety. The podcast has helped reach hundreds of listeners by sharing these stories as well as educational and treatment resources and a mental illness stigma survey.
While listeners reported that the podcast improved their knowledge of mental illness and helped normalized symptoms they may experience, the podcast has also had a profound impact on the show’s guests and Hannah herself: “Each one of the guests shared that the recording experience was especially meaningful and helpful towards their own healing. . .One other surprise was how my conversations with podcast guests changed my own beliefs about mental illness. Although I am in the mental healthcare field, there were some parts of these disorders that I did not fully understand until hearing podcast guests speak about them. This was helpful for challenging any unconscious stigma I might have held and helping me become a more educated and empathetic clinician.”
With the help of project funds the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization grew their community of trusted members by providing resources to help adult role models, or Bigs, recognize mental health problems in their Littles and create stronger relationships between them. They hosted five Big Success workshops, three Team Building activities, and three Parent Engagement workshops, as well as created a resource library called Rachel’s Corner. Visit the BBBS website for more information.
Naomi Alvarado, founder of the Unseen United Project, had a vision to provide underrepresented voices in the mental health community a chance to share their mental health stories through the form of art. With the help of this grant, Alvarado was able to do just that. She provided high school students in Washtenaw County with exposure to professionals who could help improve their artistic abilities, a support group where they could share their experiences with mental health, and a platform for the students to share their artwork. She was able to reach up to 200 people through her program and creation of an Instagram page and Unseen United Project website.
“To me, there is no greater feeling than knowing you helped someone, regardless of how it was done.”
Naveed not only wrote those words in his high school days, but also lived his whole life on these principles.
Naveed Arif Iqball was born May 14, 1993, in Southfield, Michigan, the son of Arif Iqball and Candida Iqball, and grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan. Extremely curious and encouraged to try anything, Naveed became a tae kwon do black belt at age 9, a boy scout at 10, actively competed in chess, and tried almost every sport available to him, while also playing piano and trumpet during his early years. Reflecting on these years, Naveed wrote “Playing chess helped me be patient throughout life and try to solve problems in multiple ways, and it helped me value strategy in any type of competition.”
Naveed’s childhood photographs are filled with happy memories. “One of the most important things I learned from my grandfather in elementary school was how to be respectful and try to be as selfless as possible, be it with elders or kids.” He lived his life with the same goodness and humility that he witnessed growing up. Naveed developed an early interest in helping elementary children and volunteered his time with them in high school.
Naveed loved being a part of a team. Being a member of his high school varsity tennis team for three years before taking a leadership role as a captain was very meaningful role for him. “I realized how to not only be part of a successful team, but also to lead that successful team so that everyone can reach that potential.” This love for helping people reach their full potential was a strong element in Naveed becoming a coach after graduation from the University of Michigan. I learned the distinction between “I had a choice to be good, instead of feeling pressure to be good” and leveraged this with his students. From a very early age, Naveed was aware of his multi-cultural, multi-ethnic background and viewed it as a gift. “Having a diverse background is something that I am proud of.” Visiting his father in Japan on multiple occasions, and traveling with him in Italy opened his eyes to the joys of global travel. “I love seeing the different types of people, traditions, ideas. They simply astound me. I know that my experiences can help me by bringing together each person’s unique abilities in order to best treat my patients. Every action I take impacts my future; every action I perform, I do it to better myself as a person and help me in my quest to become a doctor.”
Naveed graduated from Lakeview High School in 2011 and followed both his parents by attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He was interested in mental health, public health, sport and performance psychology, and movement science, and eventually obtained a bachelor's of science degree in Kinesiology in 2015. He was part of the initial prototyping team for Centricycle, an organization that developed an affordable and easily accessible blood centrifuge for use in rural areas in India, and was co-holder for a patent on a modular centrifuge device. Naveed worked with Dr. Edward Chang in the Department of Psychology, and with Dr. Susan Brown in the Motor Control lab, studying how age and cognitive loading affect grip force. Post graduation, Naveed continued to work in Dr. Chang’s lab during the Summer of 2016, and was involved with several posters at the Association for Psychological Science annual convention held in Chicago.
Following his graduation from the University of Michigan, Naveed started coaching full-time at the Huron Valley Tennis Club where he seamlessly became a guiding force for many players, and co-coached a Junior Team Tennis squad to first place in the Sectional Championships in Indianapolis. Naveed enjoyed working with kids on both the physical and mental aspect of the sport and had the ability to connect with and inspire them. Along with coaching at Huron Valley, he was a competitive tennis coordinator for the USTA Junior Team, a tennis co-coach at Fr. Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, and a board member at the Ann Arbor Area Community Tennis Association where he was also a singles champion. His passion for playing and teaching tennis was evident to all who knew him.
Naveed’s favorite food was sushi. It reminded him that sometimes simple things are the best, and relating to life, when used in the right ways, can really make a difference. People who called him a friend also knew him for his love of sour beer, tart cherry juice (often with Sprite), and Wendy’s frosties.
Naveed did not want to burden anyone with his problems. He suffered from depression for a very long time but did not let anyone know even though he would always be there for others in their time of need. Naveed passed away March 30, 2019. He had a talent to mesmerize anyone to add to their happiness. He will always be remembered for his love of travelling and food, but most importantly for being a selfless, incredibly kind, and gentle soul who never wanted anything in return except for their happiness. His meaning of life was to be of service, and to make a positive difference in the lives of all he touched.
Naveed's father, Arif, wrote the biography.
Naveed’s approach to relationships exemplifies the power of genuine friendship. His thoughtfulness for others as well as myself has left long lasting memories of feeling heard and loved.
Even though we no longer lived in the same city after high school we stayed in touch regularly. He made time to check in to see how I was doing, creating space for me, especially on days when I felt alone. These moments shared between us continue to sustain my dedication to community development and healing in our hometown Battle Creek, Mchigan. His discernment, selflessness, and desire for accountability are in part what guides me in my role as a public servant, advocate for justice, and community organizer to this day.
Over the course of our decade-long friendship, my dearest memories with him were the times he’d visit me on my birthday. We would talk about everything imaginable from tennis stats to local history and traveling to global politics. This time spent together reinforced the importance of human connection and active listening. He both supported my goals and also challenged me to stretch farther and reach for what I’d think was just beyond my grasp. Above all, his friendship taught me the invaluable lesson of how the smallest acts of kindness can make the biggest impact in one’s life.
His expression of joy, playfulness, and gentleness were life giving, whether it was when playing tennis, planning a birthday celebration, or caring for a sick friend. He cultivated a sense of belonging for those around him. And that deep commitment to friendship is certain to create a ripple effect across all the communities he has touched -- on and off the court