Mental Health Advocate Pooja Mehta Speaks on Suicide Awareness and Prevention in South Asian Communities

Pooja Mehta

Trigger Warning: mental health and suicide 

Pooja Mehta is an outspoken South Asian mental health advocate and has been telling her story to audiences across the United States for the last seven years. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Pooja holds a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia and is building a career working in Health Policy in Washington, DC. As a professional with lived experience and a suicide loss survivor, she is eager to further the conversation around the role public health and patient perspective play in mental health system reform and looks forward to changing the way we think and talk about mental health and suicide as a society. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her loved ones.

Can you start by introducing yourself? 

My name is Pooja, and I work in healthcare policy. I was diagnosed with anxiety with auditory hallucinations and depression when I was 15. My parents were incredibly supportive, an anomaly for the South Asian community in 2010. They immediately tried to get me the best therapists, psychiatrists, and access to all the care I needed. However, because my parents and I are part of a tight-knit South Asian community in North Carolina, they told me not to tell anyone about this to protect me. Growing up in a community where mental illness was already so heavily stigmatized and hearing my parents reinforcing that this was not something I was supposed to talk about made me self-stigmatize. In therapy and rehab programs for mental health or substance abuse treatment programs, they only work if the patient wants to engage with their care.

For the first three years of my diagnosis, I did not want to be there and did not want to engage with my care because I believed I didn’t need help and thought it was something to be ashamed of. Fast forward to college, I had an experience with a dorm mate who at the time I considered my best friend. I had to tell my story to a lot of people I didn’t know, and I was basically defending my right to stay on campus because of my diagnosis.

It was a pivotal moment in my life, because it made me realize that if I’m not going to tell people about my mental health on my own terms, they’re going to fill in the blanks.

That’s when my journey as a mental health advocate began. Once I started sharing my story openly, people started to reach out to me from my community, especially the South Asian folks. As I was sharing my story on social media, I started to work with a couple of people to help them and their families get past the social and cultural barriers of wanting to seek help related to mental health. However, 30% of the time these individuals were faced with some kind of institutional barrier, like not having insurance, being unable to afford their deductible, or they couldn’t find a provider or get access to transportation to see a provider.

I realized that if I wanted to make an impact in the way that I was hoping at the scale that I wanted to, I had to start thinking about working on a more institutional level. I got my masters in public health with a focus on health policy and am now building my career working in behavioral and mental health policy. Specifically, I’m working to address some of those social determinants and the institutional drivers of what is causing those seeking mental health care in the first place and preventing them from getting the care they need.


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A post shared by Pooja S Mehta, MPH (@poojasmehta_)

Can you please tell us about your relationship with suicide prevention month and your loss story?

I myself have attempted suicide three times, but these attempts were never driven by a desire or ideation. My diagnosis with anxiety involves auditory hallucinations and these would become so bad that I would do anything to make them stop. When I would wake up in the hospital or realize it hadn’t worked, I was so grateful because I didn’t want to die. I lost my brother to suicide on March 27, 2020, eight days into lockdown. That dramatically shifted my relationship with suicide prevention because I have been in the mental health advocacy space. I know the signs and symptoms, understand how to spread awareness, I check in on my friends. My brother and I were very close and would talk at least once a week on the phone.

We would exchange what was going on in our lives and I would point blank ask him about his mental health and how he was feeling. Raj would answer honestly and sometimes he was fine and sometimes he wasn’t. We had developed a relationship with transparency and trust, a relationship I maintain. Yet he’s gone. There were no signs or anything leading up to his death.

My relationship with suicide prevention shifted because prior to Raj’s suicide, I thought suicide prevention was cut and dry: We know the signs, symptoms, we know what causes people to do this, and if we educate people and give them the suicide hotline they’ll be fine. The last text that Raj sent, 20 minutes before I found him, was asking his lab partner about how to divide up the homework. My parents and I have no idea what happened.

So, I think when I talk about suicide prevention there are major components like mental health, checking in with friends, having an open dialogue—but I think we need to be mindful of how we are talking about people who have experienced suicide loss. September is a very difficult month for me because I see so many graphics and narratives about how suicide is preventable. What I hear in that, is the unspoken second part: ‘Why didn’t you prevent it?’ For me, a lot of therapy and talking to other survivors has made me realize that in my brother’s case, there was never an opportunity for me to prevent it. It’s very important to be mindful that not all suicides can be prevented because we still have so many unanswered questions around mental health and suicide, and that becomes more a part of the conversation. 

I want to fully lean into the fact that a lot of suicides are preventable, but not all of them can be prevented given what we know. Yes you should be armed with resources and check on your friends, but God forbid they hurt themselves or kill themselves. It’s not your fault. That needs to be amplified because right now I feel like it’s not.


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What do you wish you would’ve known about suicide prevention and awareness prior to your loss? What do you wish the South Asian community knew about suicide prevention and awareness?

I have to credit my parents for how proud I am of them for their transparency and honesty. The night Raj died, I asked them what they would tell family in India and what we would say. While my parents had told me in that same room, 10 years ago, not to tell anybody about my mental health issues, without hesitation they told me they would say suicide. My parents and I have never declined the narrative that Raj died by suicide, and I wish the South Asian community knew that’s not a failure. I have gotten very close multiple times to confronting aunties or uncles when overhearing them talk about how my mom has failed as a mother because one of her kids has a mental illness and the other one is dead. 

The South Asian community needs to understand that suicide is never a failure of the parents, the household, or the individual. It’s important to treat this type of loss with compassion and not as a topic of gossip. I can feel it when someone points me out or when they ask in a specific way how Raj died. I wish people knew inside and outside of the South Asian community to be more sensitive and how to process grief and loss.

Next Tuesday, it will be almost 2 and a half years since Raj died, and I cannot tell you how many iterations I’ve heard people ask, “Oh, you’re not over it yet?” That speaks to a greater unawareness about processing grief and loss in general and specifically around suicide. 

‘No, I’m not fucking over it. He was in my life for 20 years, I have at least 20 years of not being over it. And yes, it will be a full lifetime of grieving his absence. But at the very least I get 20 years before you even have the audacity to bring it ‘being over it.’ I know you’re tired of hearing about it. Think about how tired I am, carrying that pain.’

People are so uncomfortable with feelings in general, that people won’t ask me about Raj. They don’t bring his name up around me, they pretend he never existed even when it’s appropriate to bring up the fact that he did. I will never forget that he’s gone, and there’s nothing anyone can’t say that can ‘remind’ me that Raj isn’t here. I’m very well aware of this, but I wish people had more compassion and could hold space while being sensitive to the nature of suicide.

 What are some of the biggest challenges of being a South Asian mental health advocate and what have been some of your biggest wins?

I think some of the biggest challenges are what I’m against culturally. Culturally in the South Asian diaspora, we tend to compare our problems to others. I call it the ‘Grief Olympics,’ where it’s like ‘well my situation is worse for XYZ reason,’ while someone else might say ‘my situation is even worse for ABC reason.’ You feel like if your situation isn’t ‘bad enough,’ you don’t have a place to say anything and that needs to stop.

In South Asian culture there’s this idea that something negative isn’t so bad, you can just get over it by yourself and you’ll be fine. While in all likelihood you will be fine, you don’t need to not talk about it and get over it by yourself. You can still talk about it and you should be able to acknowledge your experiences and talk about what’s going on with the people and parts of the community in your life that are important to you. I would say these roadblocks around dialogue are my biggest barrier. 

But, you know, what are some of my biggest wins? My parents addressed my brother’s suicide and that it wasn’t even a point of hesitation for them. I used to go to the temple I went to growing up and hide in the bathroom and cry when I would feel a panic attack coming on, and then just lie saying it was period cramps. I shared my family’s loss story at that same temple and with that community.

Eight years later, I’m seeing more men’s mental health advocates who are Indian or South Asian, who are being very vocal in an authentic way is amazing. The fact that I’m seeing parents who are older and younger trying to change the way they raise their children and interact with their children in a more supportive manner while addressing their children’s mental health is a huge change. I take pride in being part of that change in a small way, but I’m just grateful to see it happening—and I know that we have a long way to go but isn’t it nice to take a step back and see how far we have come?


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What are some of your next steps related to your professional career and advocacy in the next few years? 

I’m in this great place where my professional career is a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure.’ In terms of my professional career, I’m very focused on policy work at the state and federal levels, trying to figure out how the two interact and where behavioral and public health come into play. On a personal level, my entire journey began with me sharing my story and building grassroots support from that. I want to continue this. I’m on the national board of the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI). I’m the co-chair of the youth and young adult workgroup. We’re specifically focused on ensuring as an organization that we provide space and programming for youth and young adults but also include them in those planning conversations.

I will continue doing outreach and engaging communities that have been left out of the conversation. NAMI actually has a book that came out last week. My story is in that book and hopefully, that story will be able to reach other people and inspire them to tell their story, building the conversation about what’s happening in their own communities. 

‘The book release made me take stock of what’s happening since I started sharing my story from the very beginning—we’ve come such a long way but there’s still so much further to go and I’m excited to be a part of that.’

What are some actionable steps everyone can take to decrease the stigma around suicide and improve suicide awareness/prevention?

  • Make sure you’re talking about suicide awareness and prevention openly: increase dialogues around the fact that people in South Asian communities do die by suicide, have attempted suicide or know someone who’s connected to either of these. 
  • If it’s something safe for you to do, share your story 
  • When having conversations about mental health and suicide, do it in a sensitive and tactful way, not in a gossipy way. 
  • Remember that all suicides are not preventable but a lot of them are: so make sure you know signs and symptoms, that you have the right numbers to call and that you’re being upfront when you’re worried about someone harming themselves or dying by suicide. 
  • Know that you can also connect the person to other resources or you can warmly hand them off to another person who can better handle the situation because it’s not only your responsibility to take care of the person you’re worried about.

Remind people how valuable people are

If you can’t live for yourself, live for the people who you love and who love you. Every circumstance can change, except for death.


Photo courtesy of Pooja Mehta.

By Asha Rao

Asha Rao is an Early Intervention Occupational Therapist (OT) practicing in the northern suburbs of IL. She completed her MSOT … Read more ›

‘The Black Rose’: British Asian Shweta Aggarwal Voices her Truth Against Colourism and the Battle to end her Skin Whitening Cream Addiction

Black Rose

I was a mere 14-year old on the fateful night of 22 April 1993. The night that witnessed black teenager Stephen Lawrence brutally murdered in a racially motivated attack as he waited for a bus. The night that cemented my fear, that the colour of my skin does matter. The same night that confirmed my indifference as a British Asian in the United Kingdom — were we really united? Fast forward to May 25 2020, the murder of African-American George Floyd by a white policeman was the turning point for British Asian author and my lovely friend, Shweta Aggarwal to finally break her silence and narrate her story of colourism, in her new book, “The Black Rose.” 

Aggarwal’s gripping memoir emits so many emotions; that of an awakening, a voice that has been suppressed for years, filled with anger, mistrust and guilt. But most importantly, “The Black Rose” successfully disrupts the narrative that consistently allows society to box someone as indifferent based on a visibility factor. For Shweta, this factor was the colour of her skin. The injustices she consistently endured via some family members and fellow South Asian peers throughout her life, was as a result of her skin tone failing to qualify as ‘acceptable’, or as she often quotes in her book, not ranking high enough on the ‘fairometer.’ Whether she was in India, Japan or London, the scale was never too far behind. 

[Read Related: Liam Neeson’s Week of Rage is Every Person of Colour’s Truth]

Within the first chapter, she recalls as a child in India, the distinct lack of subtlety displayed by certain family members through direct taunts of her duskier appearance in comparison to her parents. She realised that she wasn’t in complete isolation from this prejudice, as her maternal aunt and uncle were also harshly nicknamed on the basis of their skin colour — Kaali (black) and Savla (wheatish). Aggarwal was left mortified by what many South Asians sadly still continue to casually exercise. Echoing similar incidents within my social proximity, it’s infuriating witnessing the recipients of such remarks surrender to laughing at themselves too. 

Except it isn’t funny. Born into a culture where conversations on religion, caste and hierarchy in India are still so prominent, the comparison of Aggarwal’s skin colour being as dark as that of the domestic help (often from poorer families), prematurely planted seeds in her mind that she simply didn’t belong with her family, especially  when she was sent to boarding school. Her lack of self-worth coupled with these taunts, gave her a whole new vocabulary for the letter B, that grew in parallel with the ongoing prejudice and anxiety. B for blackie, beggar’s child, bedwetter! Not funny, but derogatory. Post her book launch that Brown Girl Magazine attended, she tells me,

I personally feel we are way behind when it comes to understanding the importance of mental health. Name-calling was normalised and if you objected, you were ridiculed further with remarks such as ‘So sensitive! Can’t you take a joke?’ Body and colour shaming can lead to a feeling of inadequacy in the victim, which can further lead to depression and much worse mental illnesses.

During the 1984 Hindu Sikh riots in India, where over 3000 Sikhs lost their lives, Aggarwal recollects the frightening moment when she and her classmates fled into hiding to escape the violence during a school trip. As a means to save all the students from harm, the Sikh boys were forced to remove their turbans and long hair — their visible identities stripped to keep them alive. Yet, ironically, even in this horrifying situation, Aggarwal felt least at risk, attributing this self-assurance to her darker appearance. 

The crux of her self-loathe was the love-hate relationship she formed with skin whitening creams. The birth of Fair and Lovely, India’s most renown brand (now known as Glow and Lovely following a backlash) was notorious for selling the damaging message that fairer skin equated to a happier and fulfilling life. For it was fairer skin women that would qualify for marriage — clearly their only sole purpose! 

Tactfully using famous fair-skinned Bollywood actresses in television ads and posters, their so-called perfection would scream out to vulnerable young girls. (Men were targeted much later on, but the importance seemed less). Akin to the wretched beach body posters plastered on every corner in January — because apparently bikinis only look good on a certain body type —  the damaging message remains the same. Social acceptance comes at a cost, and that cost is to look a certain way. 

[Read Related: Dear Priyanka Chopra, Endorsing Colorism and Discrimination is not ok. It Never was and Never Will Be]

It’s an extension of the dated methods imposed on women from the womb, where mothers are lectured on drinking milk with saffron to ensure the baby is fair, traditional matrimonial sites asking women to specify skin colour, and women being told to stay out of the sun. These socially ingrained views are eventually developed into modern day methods in the form of cleverly marketed consumables. Aggarwal admits, 

Most people only use the cream on their face just as I did. At that time, I didn’t even think about the rest of the body. I felt that if the face becomes fairer, that will be enough for acceptance. My mum noticed the difference for sure and I was lighter by the time I met my husband, Amit. I must admit the addiction is a combination of three factors: the justification in your own head, the strong marketing message that ONLY fair is beautiful, and the ‘compliments’ from those around you. 

I admired Shweta’s honesty on admitting what essentially was a dangerous obsession that she remained faithful to throughout her teenage and adult life. A ritual that, whilst prompted gradual results in her appearance, was never going to eliminate the insecurities she felt within herself. Moments of joy with her husband and children on holidays abroad, would be broken up by the need to ‘fix’ any damage the sun may have inflicted i.e. reverse her tan. The booming tanning industry in U.K., her now home, and admiration of her ‘sun-kissed’ look by Brits initially surprised Aggarwal — as if her colour had now gained acceptance. 

But who are we seeking acceptance from? A society that is still deep rooted in patriarchy forcing women even now to adhere to dated rites of passage that holds no relevance? Or a society that seeks to point out one’s indifference because of how they look — their skin, their religious attire, their weight? Or a society that passes judgement on a woman’s self-worth, and continues to abuse that same woman behind closed doors under the eyes of Goddess Kali? Aggarwarl goes on to explain,

The more damaging perceptions of colourism, are that ‘fair is rich’, ‘fair is successful’ and ‘fair is better educated’. Essentially, ‘fair is supreme’ in every sense. And if that’s the case, where does that leave dark-skinned people? In Ukraine, for example black and brown people were discriminated against and  not given a fair chance to save their lives. Is it fair to be denied a basic human right — survival — based on your colour? 

I personally was curious to know from my family what the definition of prejudice in the Hindi vocabulary is and how it is/was applied to in India. “Pakshappat” (taking sides) or “poorva dhaarna”, were the closest pure Hindi definitions known to my cousin, yet rarely used. However, my dad stated that “hum bedh bhau nahin hai” was the common term used to state amongst family and friends when someone was not biased and believed in equality. Somehow, colourism never really came under that category. A sentiment echoed by some of my Chinese and black friends . Even in parts of China and Africa, the belief that darker skin is perceived as inferior, is accredited to stereotyping certain groups of people as manual labourers working under the sun, and therefore of a lower class or caste. Does Shweta believe we can change this attitude?  

A couple of my aunts are still reluctant to help me with my mission. One even said ‘it’s pointless fighting it’, while one said, ‘everyone has the right to define beauty for themselves and being fairer is what beauty is for some.’ The problem with this is that people then start to look down on people who aren’t. Colourism, casteism and classism divide people, creating more unrest in society. If we continue to aspire to be fairer, we’re still encouraging white skin privilege, and encouraging colonial values. The more we allow ourselves to succumb to these social constructs, the more enslaved we feel internally. Melanin is crucial for protecting our skin against the harmful radiation of the sun. Feel blessed that you have it and wear it with pride! 

I wonder how we can dare to walk shoulder to shoulder with our black friends in the Black Lives Matter movement, if we refuse to face up to our own biases against colour? We seek equality in the U.K., but deny our deep-rooted prejudice, whilst a white privileged man lectures the world on the difference between racism and unconscious bias (yes Prince Harry, I’m looking at you!). “The Black Rose” has paved a way for many more voices to speak out against the damaging impact of colourism, and in my view, rightly belongs under the definition of prejudice in the collective South Asian vocabulary.

“The Black Rose” is available to purchase on Amazon.


Photo Courtesy: Shweta Aggarwal

By Sejal Sehmi

Brown Girl Magazine’s U.K. Editor Sejal Sehmi is an IT consultant by day, whose passion for writing stemmed from challenging … Read more ›

Painful Sex is More Common Than you Think

Close up on couple having intimacy moments

Ten to 28% of the world’s population of women experience painful sex. Keep in mind, that this is just what is reported. As embarrassing and as vulnerable as you may feel, you are absolutely not alone. The good news is that in addition to your traditional medical care to treat painful sex (also known as dyspareunia) such as medication, injections and surgery — a conservative approach is effective and long-lasting. Conservative care ranges from pelvic floor physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture which are beneficial in treating the root cause of painful sex, as well as symptoms, for long-term healing. 

Some of the signs to look out for if you experience pain are:

  1. Deep pain/burning during or after sex
    • Pain descriptors: sharp, stabbing, deep, dull, burning
  2. Vaginal Dryness
  3. Low Libido
  4. Tightening at the vaginal opening

[Read Related: 12 Beliefs About Sex That South Asians Need to Throw Out the Window]

Treatment Options 

Treatment options for painful sex such as pelvic floor physical therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture provide a long-lasting and profound effect on the pelvic floor and address your entire physical well-being.

The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that range from the pubic bone to the tailbone. The purpose of these muscles is to assist in bowel and bladder control, support a baby during pregnancy and contribute to sexual sensations. Just like any other muscle in your body, these pelvic floor muscles can become tight or weak which can be a contributing factor to pain.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor therapy can assist by strengthening and relaxing the muscles which is necessary to relieve pain during sex. 

[Read Related: My Awkward First Time at the Gyno]

Chiropractic Physician

Chiropractors can be extremely beneficial with assisting in helping relieve pain. Associated pain and discomfort can originate from the lower back and buttock muscles. Chiropractors are trained in taking a history and performing a neurological, orthopedic and soft tissue examination to identify treatment options. Deep tissue massage, skin rolling, Active Release Technique, muscle energy technique, ice, heat and electrical stimulation are just to name a few.


Acupuncture can activate the human dopamine system which helps regulate hormone levels and can assist in psychological factors. Acupuncture can improve mood, decrease pain and can be vastly beneficial in managing pain and mental health symptoms. 

Ask for help

“Everyone is having pelvic pain and no one is talking about it”

  1. Start with seeing your gynecologist who you trust for a history and examination of current symptoms to rule out any other medical conditions that could be a contributing factor to symptoms. 
  2. Locate a pelvic floor physical therapist through Apta Pelvic Health or Pelvic Rehab.  
  3. Locate proper chiropractic care that is trained as a licensed acupuncturist; look for credentials such as DC, LAc. 

[Read Related: Not Your Auntie’s Tips: 5 Sex Myths Busted]

How to talk to your partner about this in a safe/healthy way

Being open with your partner about your symptoms and painful sex may seem like a difficult conversation. Intercourse should never be painful and learning when to stay ‘stop’ is important in communication. Talking about pain before, during and after sex is important also in your own health diagnosis to see if pain symptoms are improving or becoming worse. Having open communication does not only benefit your relationship but most importantly, your own health.

To experience these symptoms may seem taboo or unheard of but quite frankly, they are common in many women. Women deserve to be directed to proper healthcare. 

Disclaimer: These are based on recommendations from a board-certified chiropractic physician and licensed acupuncturist. If symptoms become new or worse, consult with a primary care physician and or OBGYN to co-manage symptoms.


Reference: Tayyeb M, Gupta V. Dyspareunia. [Updated 2022 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:


Photo by anushkaniroshan stock photo ID: 2071991336

jasmine bhoola
By Jasmine Bhoola

Jasmine Bhoola DC, LAC - A chiropractic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Midtown East Manhattan. A graduate from the University … Read more ›

South Asian Masculinity and Mental Health: Can we Find a new way Forward?

toxic masculinity

What is South Asian masculinity?

Masculinity and mental health have come under greater scrutiny by researchers, particularly as traditional masculinity is often cited as the reason why men are less willing to reach out for support regarding psychological issues. However, the influence of masculine norms on well-being has been insufficiently viewed through an intersectional lens and is understudied within South Asian mental health. From a South Asian context, traditional masculinity can include focusing on material success while displaying suppressed emotionality, which can be manifested through anger or practicing other harmful behaviors.

[Read Related: Brown Boys Do Cry: How Toxic Masculinity Screws With Us, Too]

In order to understand its influence, it is critical to examine the impact of traditional paradigms of masculinity across the diaspora. For instance, some traits associated with traditional masculinity among South Asian men include displaying control over others. A Sri-Lanka-based study found that most male participants “associated manhood with dominance…” A Forbes India article asserted how boys in India are “taught to … apply themselves to the task of growing up to be a strong, unwavering support system for their families,” which in turn forces them to be silent about topics that may make them seem weak. This pattern of behavior becomes manifested in a particularly harmful way because boys grow up with the inability to handle their emotions or formulate healthy coping strategies during challenging circumstances. 

These norms can have drastic implications and harm other community members. For instance, a focus group conducted among Nepali men found that failure to deliver for their household economically as breadwinners eventually resulted in heated disputes, which escalated and led them to engage in domestic violence. The presence of domestic violence can also be observed through media stories on the pervasiveness of gender-based harm within South Asian communities, as seen in the murder of Sania Khan. 

Traditional masculinity also hides the wounds that South Asian men may be battling within themselves. One paper asserts that for a sizable number of Indian men, “…sadness and despair find a distorted manifestation in destructive behaviors that deny their emotional pain to themselves and to others.” Thus, performing conventionally masculine behaviors can mask deeper mental health issues. 

Repercussions of South Asian masculinity on mental health

Because of the pressure to adhere to such strict standards of conduct, traditional masculinity has significant, greater repercussions for mental health and well-being. For instance, because of the narrow ability of men to compartmentalize their feelings, this restrictive emotionality can result in an inability for others to recognize their mental health issues, thus failing to target the deeper causes of men’s behavior. Furthermore, men themselves might engage in fewer help-seeking behaviors. This is also further complicated due to gaps in culturally competent services that can serve South Asian men when they do utilize support systems. 

Additional social forces experienced by South Asian men might explain mental health outcomes, particularly when considering the role of immigration. Among South Asian American men in the United States, one study noted that “a lower social position” within their community was linked to higher distress, indicating how critical it was for first-generation men to be leaders and actively participate in their ethnic community’s organizations. Thus, social expectations of men within South Asian communities influenced their well-being, as did their social status and relative power. 

What we can do to change the status quo on South Asian masculinity and mental health 

In order to ensure that men in South Asian cultures can embrace their mental health, it is important to formulate a prudent, welcoming paradigm that encourages greater help-seeking behaviors. Greater attention to this topic can also contribute to theories on feminist and sociocultural therapeutic frameworks, which both offer the following includes suggested remedies:  

Challenging gender stereotypes and encouraging mental health care as a means to discuss issues about well-being

It is imperative to encourage South Asian men to show more emotion, thus changing the existing narrative and social pressure they face to limit the expression of their feelings. Fortunately, there is a platform, known as @BrownManTherapy, that posts content about the struggles South Asian men experience. Furthermore, therapy ought to be recommended as a means to deal with mental health concerns, which should be combined with support from the community. 

More South Asian male clinicians

In addition to instituting changes in community norms, there needs to be more diverse representation in the mental health field. In doing so, there will be greater platforms to have conversations about the negative repercussions of traditional masculinity that are unique to South Asian men. Furthermore, it is critical to challenge the social stigma that mental health is a female-dominated profession or that seeking therapy is emasculating. 

More research studies examining cross-cultural differences in masculinity across South Asian cultures

The connection between masculinity and mental health ought to be investigated much further. Studies should particularly assess masculinity within non-white contexts in order to examine the standards of manhood across several communities and truly understand the unique stressors men face across different cultural backgrounds.

[Read Related: These 5 South Asian Men Are Opening up About Their Mental Health and Toxic Masculinity]

While the connection between South Asian masculinity and mental health is not discussed among psychology professionals, it is critical to study the association since it plays a role in South Asian gender inequities and in mental health behaviors among South Asian men. More broadly, given the prevalence of intimate partner violence within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the role of patriarchal norms in inflicting this harm, it is now more important than ever to reimagine expectations surrounding men’s behavior. 

By further examining the problems caused by adherence to traditionally masculine norms and implementing certain solutions, these ideas can be challenged and dismantled to create a progressive and more inclusive model of manhood. Above all, identifying and eradicating toxic ideas rooted in traditional South Asian masculinity will lead to liberation for all people.

If you need additional resources, please visit:

Photo: Shutterstock/Roxanne 134

paritosh joshi
By Paritosh Joshi

Paritosh Joshi is a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. His background includes a Master of … Read more ›