Mental Health In The Indian Community
This past week I went to my first therapy appointment, and let me tell you it was weird. I got in and my therapist told me just to talk, and I was at a loss for words. I just didn’t know what to say. Talking about emotions to a complete stranger goes against every fiber in my being. Growing up in an Indian household, it’s just not how we do things. When I brought up any form of anxiety I was just told to “be brave” or “just relax” and when I said anything about being sad it was immediately brushed aside. Even when I cried, I was told to “control my emotions better” even though I rarely cry. So sitting in a room, across from a lady who’s job is to listen to me talk about my emotions was unnerving, to say the least.
Also, I’ve had my mom tell me before that what happens in our house stays in our house, but a lot of things that are bothering me, or have bothered me come from within my house and the cultural expectations associated with it. Therefore, criticizing anything that occurs in my house, feels like the ultimate betrayal to my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and am super grateful for everything they have done for me. I don’t blame them for their attitude towards mental health. If anything I feel bad for them. They had to grow up with the same attitude regarding mental health as well, with almost no outlets to get help.
The issue regarding mental health within the Indian community, is larger than just my household, because I know for a fact so many of my Indian friends feel the same way I do. Indian kids face so much pressure to be the best from their parents growing up, that they internalized it as they get older, and they become the ones pushing themselves to be the very best. This in itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but we don’t have the right resources to navigate this pressure. Pushing yourself to be the best is exhausting and tiring, especially when you have no outlets to talk about the stress and pressure we put ourselves under.
Ultimately, I am luckier than most. I have a close enough relationship with my parents to eventually tell them that I needed help, even though it was hard. But, my parents tend to be less strict and more understanding than so many other Indian parents. There are so many Indian kids out there who desperately need help, but can’t ask for it. There is a huge mental health problem within the Indian community that comes from centuries of cultural traditions that will be hard to solve. However, I am optimistic because through social media younger generations of Indians are being given safe spaces of people who struggle with the same things they do. Maybe, with the help of social media, we will finally be able to address this issue and give it the attention it desperately needs.