Shadows in the Sun

Healing from depression and finding the light within

Culture Counts

When it comes to matters of mental health and wellness, culture counts.

On March 7, 2014, I was a featured speaker along with former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher at a fundraising reception hosted by Mental Health America of San Francisco to strengthen communities and support mental health and recovery. It was an absolute honor. 

Dr. Satcher was the first U.S. Surgeon General to create a report on mental health. In 1999, Dr. Satcher released another report on mental health discussing how culture and society impact the different mental health services people seek, as well as how mental health and mental illness are looked upon in America. "While mental disorders may touch all Americans either directly or indirectly, all do not have equal access to treatment and services," Dr. Satcher said. "Critically, culture counts."

Dr. Satcher's insights have inspired and empowered me and my colleagues at ASHA International to create and present programs that are culturally responsive.

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As a woman cradled between the diametric cultures of the ancient East, India, and the modern West, America, I am acutely aware of the cultural barriers to recovery and culturally-responsive pathways to mental health and wellness–a story I share in my memoir, Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within. For example, within the Indian culture, the incredible need to save face and safeguard the family's honor, coupled with our misconceptions about mental illness prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. Yet wellness practices that originated in India, like pranyama, transcendental meditation, and yoga provide powerful pathways to health and wellness.

Do you have any cultural barriers that prevent you from seeking treatment and support for mental health issues? What are your culturally-responsive pathways to mental health and wellness? I'd love to hear from you at gayathri@myasha.org

Gayathri Ramprasad is the Founder and President of ASHA International and the author of Shadows in the
Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within.
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