Clinical mistrust and skepticism of mental health are recurring themes among South Asians, and to some degree, it is understandable. Big pharma and the frustrations of the American healthcare system often alienate individuals from seeking treatment for mental illnesses. Additionally, the medical model does not work for everyone.
Sometimes, what an individual needs during low points of their mental health is support from their community. Unfortunately, for too many South Asians for which this was not the case. In order to combat the intergenerational stigma of mental health among the South Asian community, a community-level understanding that mental health is health is needed.
A clinical model that addresses cultural barriers toward seeking care is vital. For example, immigrants that speak different languages may require translators. This in turn can increase clinical distrust between an individual and their therapist. There are over 200,000 South Asians living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet rarely have counselors that look like them and understand the cultural values.
We need to elevate culturally-sensitive resources and create spaces dedicated toward South Asian populations in the United States. This includes recognizing the impact of identity on mental health outcomes; an example of this is the LGBTQ community. South Asian LGBTQ-identifying individuals are at a statistically higher risk of suicide not just due to their sexuality, but also because of stigma attached to mental health in our community.
Change needs to happen via dialogue, so it’s time to start. Talk with your families regarding mental illness. Support their decisions regarding their mental health. As a community, come together to help de-stigmatize mental health.
Read more at TheAerogram.com.