Diaspora is Highly Vulnerable to Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia

By Riya Gupta

Keep silent about the things you suffer the most from. The Desi community believes in tough love, without understanding how it silences us, minimizing our feelings into insecurities. Treading into September, Suicide Awareness Month, I believe it is important to address the prevalence of mental health issues in the Desi community and respond to them with a community sense of respect.

There is significant judgment placed around those having mental health disorders in India and Indians living abroad. In conjunction with a lack of accessibility and affordability, there are major shortcomings in terms of treatment options, which may be seen in a study performed by the National Mental Health Survey in 2015, which found that almost 80 percent of those suffering from a mental health disorder in India did not receive treatment for over one year.

In addition, one in five South Asians report experiencing an anxiety or mood disorder, but 150 to 200 million people in this region have a diagnosed mental illness yet have limited access to mental health care. Evidently, there is a major issue within the mental health of South Asians in which stigma, unawareness, and high expenses are forcing many individuals to unfairly suffer for extended periods of time.

Moreover, another study named, “Mental health and stress among South Asians,” analyzed mental health and stress among south Asians and revealed that this particular diaspora is highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and psychopathology related to eating.

The India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative revealed that the disease burden due to mental disorders has increased from 2.5 percent in 1990 to 4.7 percent in 2017 which demonstrates the implications mental illness is having over time. There is subsequently a positive correlation between depression and suicide, particularly among women.

As a community, there is much reflection, forgiveness, and reconstruction that must be done. The statistics display the facts, but it is up to us how to react and move forward with this knowledge. In my opinion, the first step is allowing self to feel vulnerable and allowing others to be sensitive. As individuals, we may be consumed by our emotions. As a community, we can move beyond our suffering. My endeavor to support South Asian women’s mental health stems is depicted through the Instagram I curated @spiderinthetoilet. I urge you to check it out and reach out with any ideas or thoughts you may have.

The writer is facilitating discussions around various therapies, mental illnesses, and resources specifically within the South Asian community.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: NIHM)

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