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We hope these stories will inspire you and more young people to come forward and share their own, helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

An Inside Look at Mental Health in the South Asian Community

June 22, 2017 • Ekta Saksena • 25 • New York, NY USA

I am currently a second-year M.P.H student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. In 2014, I earned my B.A. from Boston University, where I studied Psychology and Public Health. Soon after declaring my major, I became fascinated with the complexities of the mind and the topic of mental health. It continues to be a field that I am passionate and I hope to make a lasting impact in years to come.

        April 7, 2017 marked World Health Day and is part of a one-year campaign led by the World Health Organization titled: Depression: Let’s Talk. Each year the WHO chooses a health topic of interest; this is the first year that a mental health issue has been the center of the campaign. This video focuses specifically on mental health in the South Asian community, where stigma and discrimination are far too common. In order to gain some more insight into the topic, I recruited my peers and classmates to discuss their personal experiences with mental health.

        As a society, we have put up this invisible barrier between those who suffer from mental illness and those who do not. This cloud of stigma surrounding mental health stops people from seeking help, stops us from understanding the root of the issue, and stops us from achieving positive change. Illness is illness. No one is ashamed of going to their doctor for a physical illness, and similarly, no one should be ashamed of getting help for a mental illness. Let’s do our part in tackling this global issue, by giving mental health the attention that it deserves. As an aspiring public health professional, I surely will do my best to ensure that we are all actively working to decrease the stigma which exists.

        Mental health does not need to be something we tiptoe around. Feeling a bit down? Talk about it. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, teacher, acquaintance, or stranger – Just talk about it. Ask questions. Keep an open mind. Above all, be kind. Acknowledging that these illnesses exist will allow people, whether they are suffering or not, to have open and honest conversations. We have made substantial progress over the years, but there is still a long way to go!


Ekta is a second year MPH candidate at Columbia University Mailman School of Health. Previously, she studied Psychology and Public Health at Boston University, which is where her interest in mental health first began.