The Fight To Destigmatize Mental Health In South Asian Communities

November 30, 2021

By Saloni Khushal

Saloni Khushal (she/her/hers) is a digital strategist and policy professional. After graduating with a B.A. in International Relations and Business, Saloni worked on congressional campaigns and as a creator on the Biden Coalition TikTok team. She’s now a policy associate. Saloni is a changemaker, dedicated to raising social, cultural, political awareness, and works on Brown Gal Glow, a project made to challenge stereotypes and empower women of color.

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As a first-generation Indian American and daughter of immigrants, I’ve seen and heard firsthand the taboo around mental health in South Asian communities.

I’ve had many conversations about this topic with older family members, and they always note how mental health was never discussed in their generation. Expressing emotions was not the norm. Therefore, emotions and thoughts were suppressed, which was harmful. Mental health was regarded as something that wasn’t “real” or just “in your head.” All of this resulted in the creation of a stigma around mental health. These ideals can get passed down from generation to generation, and in some cases, that’s exactly what happens in our community.

Something that’s been motivating to witness is not only the movement to destigmatize mental health globally, but also locally. Through education, raising awareness, and encouraging tough conversations, the topic of mental health in South Asian communities is becoming more prominent. The narrative around mental health is transforming for the better, and South Asians are beginning to speak out and seek help.

One resource that has been extremely helpful to me is Brown Girl Therapy founded by Sahaj Kohli. Sahaj creates content geared towards children of immigrants that touches on common struggles. Platforms like Brown Girl Therapy help open the door for meaningful change.

While I may never fully understand the stigma that’s attributed to mental illness in my community, I’m committed to doing all I can to shift the narrative. As we navigate a newer generation that’s fighting for change, I feel hopeful for all that’s to come in the future. No matter where you are in your mental health journey, support is always available when you are ready.

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