The Naveed Arif Iqball Keynote Lecture highlights the work of individuals who are creating change in the understanding and advancement of college student mental health. It’s held annually at the Depression on College Campuses conference.

The support for this lecture is provided by the Naveed Arif Iqball Mental Health Advocacy Endowment Fund, established by Arif Iqball of Kyoto, Japan, in memory of his son, Naveed, who sadly lost his battle with depression in 2019. He believed stigma prevented his son from seeking treatment or sharing his struggles with his family and friends. Through this lecture, Mr. Iqball hopes to raise awareness about student mental health and reduce stigma throughout our communities.

Attend the 2024 keynote lecture

A black man wearing dark rimmed glasses and a patterned suit jacket with a floral shirt underneath and a bowtie

Oluwaferanmi "Dr. O" Okanlami, M.D., M.S., director of Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services, University of Michigan, and clinical assistant professor at Michigan Medicine has been selected to present this year's Naveed Arif Iqball Keynote Lecture. 

Dr. Okanlami will deliver the closing keynote entitled Disabusing DisabilityTM: Demonstrating That DISability Doesn't Mean INability at the Depression on College Campuses conference from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 at the Rackham Graduate School in Ann Arbor. This lecture is free and open to the public. 

About Naveed Arif Iqball

Biography written by Naveed’s father, Arif Iqball 

“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 a 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 of Science 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 a 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, 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 aspects 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 on March 30, 2019. He had a talent to mesmerize anyone to add to their happiness. He will always be remembered for his love of traveling 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 in life was to be of service and to make a positive difference in the lives of all he touched.

Naveed Arif Iqball with his and friend Jackie.

A friend's tribute

Written by Naveed’s friend, Jackie Slaby 

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, Michigan. 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 thought 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 expressions 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.

Projects supported by the Naveed Arif Iqball Endowment Fund

Adolescent Health Initiative's Connection Sessions

The Adolescent Health Initiative, part of Michigan Medicine, is a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals who strive to improve the quality of care provided to adolescents across the country. The nationally recognized organization works with care providers in 44 states, equipping them with innovative strategies to better serve their communities. AHI provides customer-focused, youth-driven approaches through coaching, assessment, modeling, and fostering community among adolescent health care providers nationwide.

Connection Sessions are day-long professional development conferences hosted by the Initiative. This year’s conference theme, Intersections, focuses on supporting youth, their identities, and their mental health needs across disciplines. The conference helps care providers expand their capacity to support mental health needs. It explores the intersectional strategies necessary for improving care, including culturally responsive and youth-friendly approaches to screening and support.

Hannah Becker
Syllabus for Overcoming Stigma Podcast

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 normalize 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.” Be sure to listen to Hannah’s podcast available on Spotify and Apple podcasts. If you are interested in being a guest on her podcast, fill out the form here.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County
Building a Community of Trusted Mentors

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 creating a resource library called Rachel’s Corner. Visit the BBBS website for more information.

Naomi Alvarado
Unseen United Project

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 the creation of an Instagram page and Unseen United Project website.