Mental Health + Self Defense

Optimizing wellness to help us live to our fullest potential through a whole-body approach

Susie Kahlich
5 min readNov 21, 2021


Krishna Mandir, Patan, Nepal © 2021 Susie Kahlich

I’m in Nepal this week to kick off a pilot program with our partners at The Sambhavya Foundation, integrating self defense as an intrinsic part of mental health and wellness for teenagers in Nepal. Our partnership and approach is a first-of-its-kind program, as we pioneer the intrinsic relationship between body literacy and mental health in a whole-body approach.

During one of the earlier lockdowns, I took an online continuing education workshop to learn how to identify suicidal indicators which can sometimes show up during self defense courses, especially in vulnerable populations.

Given by The OLLIE Foundation, the workshop was thoughtful and insightful (and I highly recommend it!). During the Q&A chat at the end of the workshop, I connected with Ashish Shrestha of The Sambhavya Foundation. I asked if they’d be interested in working together. The obvious focus was that violence against women and girls in Nepal is incredibly high, but as we explored ways to work together we started talking about self defense as part of mental health support and noting the common points our missions both share.

The Sambhavya Foundation works towards providing high school students in Nepal with mental health and school counseling support — a new concept in Nepal, where teen suicide rates were already far too high before the pandemic.

Already traumatized by the struggling economy, unpredictable politics and recent natural disasters like the 2015 earthquake that devastated the country’s infrastructure, Nepalese teens suffered even further during the 2020–2021 lockdowns.

The Sambhavya Foundation recognizes the risk of long-term trauma and the danger it poses to the country’s future — a future that will be built by today’s youth. The Foundation’s goal is to minimize the risk of that longterm trauma which, left untreated, can so often turn into legacy trauma that perpetuates an ever-more destructive cycle at individual, community and federal levels with each successive generation.



Susie Kahlich

CEO of SINGE | Founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense @ | Former producer of art podcast Artipoeus: art you can hear @

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