How Can We Support Mental Wellness in the South Asian Diaspora?

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Follow the instagram @mentalhealthinthediapora!

Questions

What is the South Asian Diaspora?

The South Asian Diaspora refers to people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives who do not live in their country of origin and to their children.

What is Mental Wellness?

The World Health Organization defines mental wellness as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” This definition can be achieved by supporting individuals needs through access to proper tools, awareness about the issues, and a community of support.

Why Support and not just Awareness?

While spreading awareness about mental health among south asian communities is certainly important, it is just one step to providing support. When dealing with the issues in our community we must take active steps and cater to the needs of people who need help. Through this project I hope to support wellbeing through the steps outlined below.

Follow the instagram @Mentalhealthinthediaspora   

As immigration rates from South Asia increase, it is important to understand its mental health impacts on the South Asian community. Recent studies show increasing rates of Depression and Anxiety among South Asian men and women in the U.K and researchers suspect this is directly caused by the stressors shown in the infographic. Studies also show South Asian female immigrants to be more susceptible to self-harm and disorders including Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, and various Eating Disorders. During my research, I met with Dr. Mistry also known as “@thebrownpsychologist” to discuss these stressors and what we as a community can do to ease them. Dr. Mistry shared her experiences working with South Asian women and the significant impact our culture can have on triggering mental illness. She explained that lack of awareness about mental illnesses, the lack of research on South Asian mental health, and the community stigmas associated with getting mental health help all contribute to the increasing prevalence of mental illnesses among the South Asian diaspora. 

What Can We Do?

We can begin the journey to mental wellness by easing the stressors in South Asian communities. One of the greatest stressors for minorities is the trauma from racism and racial biases that we carry, our first step should be looking towards what stereotypes we have internalized and unlearn them. We should also support South Asian immigrant communities by amplifying South Asian voices. The field of mental health is extremely white dominated and it is important to reach out towards South Asian professionals for representation and to truly  understand the struggles of these communities. Additionally, being an ally against racism and xenophobia is one of the most important steps we can take as individuals. Wether that looks like attending protests, being critical of harmful media representation, spreading awareness by sharing @mentalhealthinthediaspora posts, or simply calling out racism in our circles, all of these actions can ease minority stressors. 

 

 

A Few Steps in the Right Direction

Access to Helpful Tools

Creating a Social Media platform allows us to provide free access to tools like mental health hotlines, tips from therapists, and health practices. These may include podcasts that promote health coping mechanisms, and sources for guided meditations.

Checkout accounts like @anxiety_overcoming for practices!

Spreading Awareness

Using Instagram we are able to reach our target audience and spread awareness of the importance of taking charge of our communities mental health. We, as individuals, can share these posts and amplify brown voices with the hope that it will inspire more of us to advocate for mental wellness. This advocacy starts with seeing the biological, cognitive, and sociocultural stressors in our culture while still celebrating our heritage.

Building a Community

Through this platform we are able to connect to mental health professionals and hear their insight on issues individuals are facing. We have been able to connect to a diverse field of South Asian focused therapists and psychologists to curate advice on digital wellness, grounding practices, and daily gratitude exercises.

Check out accounts like @think_deepa for exercises!
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Helpful sources:

Definitions

5 Tips to Maintain Mental Wellness even When Life is Hectic

Works Cited:

Karasz A. The ASHA Project: An innovative multi level intervention to address depression in South Asian women.  [Google Scholar]

Sheikh S, Furnham A. A cross-cultural study of mental health beliefs and attitudes towards seeking professional help. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology. 2000;35(7):326–334. [PubMed[Google Scholar]

Meyer OL, Zane N, Cho YI, Takeuchi D. Use of specialty mental health services by Asian Americans with psychiatric disorders. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2009;77(5):1000–1005. [PMC free article] [PubMed[Google Scholar]

Karasz, Alison, et al. “Mental Health and Stress Among South Asians.” Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5643212/.

 

6 Comments

6 comments

  1. Hi Aminah! I really enjoyed reading your project! I wasn’t aware that mental health problems in diaspora communities could be so severe. Immigration, peer pressure, and academic pressure are something I expected as the cause of those problems, but family pressure was new to me. I think your project brought up an issue that needs more attention, great job!

    1. Thank you! I think a lot of these issues are swept under the rug so I agree, it is important to shed light on them!

  2. Hi Aminah! I really liked your project and the idea behind it. Your project was so clear and easy to follow. I definitely agree that these mental health issues deserve more attention. Well done!!

    1. Thank you! I am so glad you found it easy to follow.

  3. Hi Aminah! You went about this project so beautifully. Providing mental health support, specifically, in the South Asian Diaspora is no easy feat, but you were able to jump in with both feet and really get a great project done! I really loved how at the beginning of the page, you actually specified the difference between spreading awareness versus providing support.

    1. Thank you! Through out my course we touched on the value of awareness and I was excited to bring that knowledge into this project.

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