As a woman cradled between the diametric cultures  of India and America, I am acutely aware of the impact culture has on our mental health and well-being. Inherent within all cultures are barriers to mental health and pathways to health and well-being. For example, I found the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness,  and the resultant social isolation within the Indian culture, was much more painful to overcome than the disease of depression. And, I am hardly alone. Over the years, I have learned to overcome these barriers and harness the power of culturally-responsive wellness practices like pranayama, yoga and Transcendental Meditation to create a life of well-being.

According to the Surgeon General's Report, Mental Health: Culture, Race & Ethnicity, the cultures from which people hail affect all aspects of mental health and illness, including the types of stresses they confront, whether they seek help, what types of help they seek, what symptoms and concerns they bring to clinical attention, and what types of coping styles and social supports they possess.

At ASHA International, we strive to empower people to overcome cultural barriers to mental health and create lives of well-being. We also educate healthcare professionals to provide culturally-responsive care. 

I am grateful to my dear friend Chacku, for shedding light on his unique cross-cultural perspective on well-being. Please see the article and video below. And, share his message of hope and resilience  with your family, friends, colleagues and clients.
 
Together, we can promote awareness that mental health conditions are part of the human experience. And, create a world of empathy, compassion and inclusion where every man, woman and child struggling with a mental health condition can find the love and support they need to create healthy, meaningful, productive lives. 

Wishing you wellness ,
Founder & President
ASHA International
LIVING WELL by Chacku Mathai
I am a River, not a statue
 
I struggled to define wellness for years, mostly because I found myself trapped in a whirlpool of confusion as I waded through the many ways people tried to define my struggles. For example, during some of my most difficult times, when I trusted someone enough to reveal that I saw shadows jumping around my bedroom, heard other people's thoughts and knew that people were trying to kill me, there was an immediate desire to help me by telling me my brain was sick and that I needed to take medications to get well. It was like they didn't even hear what I was telling them. I didn't like seeing, hearing or knowing any of it. I felt unsafe and frightened, however, even more confusing were the contradictions.
 
When I took a long hot shower, I felt safe, even motivated. When I sat in the warmth of the sun, I remembered things I liked to do, like play soccer. When I played soccer, the action, and life itself, seemed to slow down to a pace I could handle. When I visited and cared for the dogs at the shelter, I smiled and wanted to take them home. Then I would see one of my teachers, another student or a neighbor and I would be afraid again. At night, the shadows would be more aggressive, and as I laid awake watching them, I would discover even more evidence of the harm people intended for me.
 
Wellness, for me, became something I could search for and practice every day. I realized that I was more like a river than a statue. I discovered this analogy for the first time in a book by Deepak Chopra, MD. In the same book, I read about my own family's traditional healing practice called Ayurveda and learned that I could find even more ways to breakdown the delusions that I was sick, broken and worthless and let other experiences of my reality, the wellness experiences, take place. The very quality of a river is that it changes. Sometimes I was a powerful waterfall, yet felt isolated and weak as a droplet of water, until I returned to myself in a crashing confluence of energy at the bottom. I can emerge from the swirling waters at the bottom more powerful than ever, and with even more ways to live well than before. Wellness, for me, is knowing and embracing that I am the River.  

 
Chacku's Message of Hope


We are delighted to Launch SAATHI - A South-Asian Mental Health Outreach Program!
The cultural stigma and shame surrounding mental illness in the South-Asian community can prevent people from seeking help. 

SAATHI, a South-Asian Mental Health Outreach Program of ASHA International aims to:
  • Promote awareness about mental health and emotional well-being
  • Improve access to care &
  • Connect people to community supports and wellness resources
The program supports people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan living in the Portland metropolitan area.

Learn More

UPCOMING EVENTS

August 25, 2017
Finding the Light Within
Keynote p resented by Gayathri Ramprasad
NAMI California Conference
Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
Newport  Beach, CA
Please click here to learn more and register 

October 20, 2017
A Celebration of Hope: An Evening of Storytelling
ASHA International's Annual Fundraising Event
6:00 - 9:00 PM
Embassy Suites Hotel
20001 NW Tanasbourne Drive, Hillsboro, Oregon, 97124

November 4, 2017
Finding the Light Within
Keynote presented by Gayathri Ramprasad
NAMI Minnesota Conference
St Paul RiverCentre, St Paul, MN  

February 8 - 9, 2018
5th Global Mental Health Summit
Johannesburg, South Africa
Keynote and Panel Presentation by Gayathri Ramprasad
Please click here to learn more and register 


DO YOU HAVE A RECOVERY STORY?
Stories have the power to inform, inspire and transform lives. 
If you have a recovery story, please  submit your story today. Your story will  give HOPE to people struggling with mental health issues around the world, and inspire them to recover and rebuild a healthy, meaningful, productive life.
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