The South Asian diaspora is a fundamentally diverse, spirited, and multifarious population. A culture filled with hundreds of religions, languages, cultural practices, customs, traditions, values, and rituals. South Asians showcase a wide array of magnificence and pride in their rich cultural origins. Despite these identifiable differences, south Asians do have one commonality. That commonality is their skepticism and hesitation towards the acceptance of the impact of mental illness, and their ability to seek help.
& Bridging the Gap
This ambivalence could exist for several reasons some of which include: social stigma, familial expectations, economic disparities in South Asian populations, historically religious beliefs, medical racism, cultural bigotry, community-think and more. Research conducted over three decades on mental health has shown that Asian Americans exhibit some of the highest rates of depressive symptoms, with suicide being the fifth-leading cause of death among this population, compared to the ninth-leading cause among Non-Hispanic white Americans. Among women aged 15-24, Asian American females have the highest suicide rates among all racial and ethnic groups.
Despite the glaring statistics, Asian Americans often feel suffocated and stuck in the stigma around accessing mental health care. One major reason for this is the lack of South Asian representation in the mental health community. Not seeing oneself depicted in the space serves as a barrier to taking that deeply vulnerable step. At Boundless, we saw this lack of representation as an alarming concern and sought to create a space that fills that much-needed gap.
Naming the South Asian Struggle
A Binal Life
Immigrant children often find themselves living a dual existence that allows them to pick and choose from two cultures, but it also leads to a feeling of isolation, and as though one does not fully belong to either. This cultural dilemma can cause young adults and teenagers to experience an identity crisis, asking themselves questions such as "who am I, where do I come from, and who do I belong to?" This dissonance can be intensified by the treatment they receive at home versus the treatment they receive in society, leading to confusion and frustration.
Why Should This Matter?
As listed above, brown people are beautifully complex individuals with rich histories and unique lived experiences. They deserve care, support and help to brave the inevitable storm. But getting help is not as easy as it seems. Most traditional psychotherapy has been built on the understanding of White Middle-Class Western Families. Just transferring these interventions built solely on Western theory and understanding, and applying it to South Asian populations can be very damaging.
Is there hope for change?
Yes, at Boundless, we offer culturally sensitive and culturally attuned therapy. Our clinicians focus on understanding their client’s backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicity, and belief systems, in order to inform how they approach the therapeutic process. We are committed to creating a culture of inclusivity through informed, judgment-free, sex-positive, and supportive psychotherapy to meet the unique needs of marginalized communities. We believe that true change is born when changemakers represent the communities they serve.