South Asians & Mental Health – A Heartfelt Message
Priyanka grew up in New Jersey. She has a strong…
Dear South Asians,
Have you felt societal or parental pressure? Many South Asians face difficult times. Whether you are a South Asian living in a South Asian country or have migrated to another country, our culture follows us where ever we turn. Although, it is great to be connected to our roots, sadly, the ideologies of culture that might oppress us from truly expressing ourselves will be carried with us.
As a South Asian female, I have faced the realities of our culture when my mother constantly expressed the common phrase, “log kya kahange?” (what will people say?). Growing up, I had many male friends, but this concerned my mother, as people would perceive me in a manner that our family name will be threatened. Next, not knowing what I wanted to have as a career was another concern of my parents. The standing joke is that Indian children have careers as lawyers or doctors, but was this a career I wanted? Following, being diagnosed with a chronic condition was the cherry on top. These are just prime examples of how I dealt with some common South Asian stigmas. What were yours? How did you deal with them?
Growing up in the United States, I had to break barriers. I identify myself as an Indian American – someone who has the best of both worlds. It has not been an easy journey, but I finally embraced myself, and I expressed to my parents that I would not let them down if I made choices for myself. This was not easy, but establishing a relationship with your support system and family is very important.
There might be toxic relationships within a family unit, which might make it difficult for women to open up. This is where creating a social system outside of the family is vital. Some risk factors of mental illness amongst South Asians are, “older age, literacy, financial difficulties, gender roles, perceptions of illness, social isolation, and poor physical health” (Karasz et al, 2019). If you find yourself alone, remember that there are many other men and women like you.
Prevent and manage mental illnesses by finding outlets. This can include writing in a journal, distracting yourself and indulging in activities that allow you to celebrate your little successes, telling yourself words of affirmation, finding a network of friends that will support and empower you, and most importantly: seek help where you need to – do not be afraid to voice the need of help to the people you love most. If you do not seek mental attention, you risk the chance of suicide. For those that have friends or family members suffering from mental stresses, be there for your loved one before it is too late.
Priyanka Deepak Gianchandani, M.D., M.B.A., M.B.S., M.P.H. Candidate
Internal Medicine Resident Physician and Scientist
Priyanka grew up in New Jersey. She has a strong interest in exercise science, nutrition, public health, healthcare, and medicine, as she is a physician. She also has an interest in skincare, fashion, dance, and many other aspects of lifestyle, and she loves to spread this knowledge through social media.