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The South Asian Guilt; Breaking Stigmas & Accessing Mental Health Support

July is Mental Health Minority month. This month is a call to all mental health clinicians to be accountable for being culturally competent and affirming. With the minority lens, clinicians can provide effective mental health services to people of color. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the minority population has spiked in diversity in the United States over the past twenty years. July brings attention to the gap that exists within the minority, or people of color, community attempting to access mental health services. Majority of the gaps are related to language and cultural barriers. These barriers further reinforce the minority communities’, including the South Asians', silence and feelings of not being heard or understood.

Mental Health Minority month is about bringing awareness to bridge the gaps to services and break stigmas around mental health in the South Asian community. Research by Anand & Cochrane (2005), reveals that South Asians in the US have been found to under utilize mental health services. To help us close the gaps and bridge the barriers, below we will explore the benefits of therapy from a South Asian lens.

As a potential South Asian client, you may find yourself asking the question: What is the difference between talking to a friend versus a therapist? Do I really need a therapist if I can get advice from someone who already cares about me? I’ve come this far on my own, why do I need a therapist now? What will my parents think if I seek professional help?

According to Shakti Therapy & Healing Services, a holistic group practice in Los Angeles, Ca, the first thing to consider is talking to a friend, family member, or a loved one is a reciprocal conversation. This requires you to listen, process their stories, and find a sense of relation with their experiences. Therapy on the other hand, is all about YOU! It is a place where you can be open and feel safe to explore your thoughts and emotions in a helpful manner. This non-judgmental space allows you to fully tap into your inner self and discover intimate parts of you. Therapy gives voice to the parts that you hide from your family and friends due to fear of judgment. Therapy is about figuring out how you want to show up in the world as an authentic person.

Sometimes you may feel like a minority in your own family household or community. Many South Asians are in a unique place where they hold themselves accountable to manage their culture through their parents, all while forming their identity in the western world. This can feel daunting. What does it even mean to be authentic when you are balancing traditional, generational expectations and assimilating into the predominant community. This unique experience you face can alienate you or make you feel different from those you are close to and love. Therapy gives this space a voice and uses this experience to build a balanced authentic self.

Therapy, however, does have an expectation from you; to fully share what is on your mind and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself: how many times have you had the opportunity to really share what is on your mind and speak your truth? There is always the inside voice that keeps you from unveili