Mental health is taboo in the South Asian community. We just don’t talk about it. The community perceives those with mental health issues to be “weak” or “crazy”, mental health is viewed as a personal defect, and real issues that deserve attention are buried under the rug due to stigma.
Stigma is powerful. It keeps people from feeling accepted or seeking the mental health care that is needed. This, in turn, leads to shame, isolation, and fear. Because of stigma, even those closest to us tend to dismiss mental health symptoms. We’re told to “just get over it.”
Where does this powerful stigma come from? Stigma often stems from the desire to preserve reputation and status at all costs and to prevent community gossip.
This is especially true of South Asians because of our collectivist community, and it prevents individuals and families from openly discussing mental health.
Additionally, stigma is worsened by a lack of mental health awareness. Mental illnesses are too often attributed to personal weakness, the will of God, black magic, or bad parenting. On top of all this, for the South Asian diaspora, the model minority stereotype is an added pressure.
This stereotype perpetuates the idea that South Asians should be successful high achievers, and leaves no room for sharing stories of struggle.
If this stigma is something that you have experienced, we want you to know that we hear you, we see you, your feelings are valid, and we are doing our best to tear it down. It’s time to #SpeakUp.
MannMukti translates to “mental liberation” in Hindi. Our mission is to encourage healthy, open dialogue of South Asian mental health issues in an effort to remove stigma, improve awareness and promote self-care.
MannMukti is a storytelling platform, launched in May 2017, that enables the South Asian diaspora to normalize and discuss mental health issues.
We emphasize sharing stories of South Asian mental health to create a new narrative of compassion and acceptance. By highlighting the many different forms mental illness takes within our community, we hope to reduce the collectivist pressure to sweep these issues under the rug. In our accessible and positive mental health community, we put an emphasis on social media and digital connections and also host several events.
Though we are not medical professionals, we believe in sharing medically accurate information and research to raise awareness about the scientific side of mental health diagnoses and issues. Finally, we believe in the power of our members to spread awareness in their local communities: in addition to our working staff, we have a team of incredible ambassadors that bring the MannMukti message to life.
MannMukti was founded by Abhijith (Abhi) Ravinutala because he lost a best friend. After mental health issues led to the death of his friend in 2015, Abhi knew that both he and the community as a whole could’ve done better by his friend. He made it his goal to reduce the stigma against mental health issues in South Asian communities and to increase awareness and compassion for those living with mental illness. Something had to be done to ensure that no one felt the way that his friend did.
After months of recruiting, planning, designing, and researching, MannMukti was launched in May 2017.
Here on the MannMukti website, you’ll find a diverse array of real stories of South Asian mental health journeys. These people want you to know that you’re not alone. Our “Stories of Stigma” podcast series connects interested listeners with experts on South Asian mental health, through interviews hosted by the MannMukti team. Background information on mental health conditions and treatments help keep you informed and aware, even if you’re not currently seeking help. Research and articles keep you updated about scientific developments on the link between immigration, South Asian culture, and mental health. Detailed resources offer options for addressing your mental health with professionals in your area, or for learning more from national advocacy groups and other South Asian organizations.
Our social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) offer mental health content and resources on your newsfeed, while our MannMukti Community forum for connecting with others enables you to normalize conversations about mental health and defeat stigma. Finally, our University Chapters and Ambassador Program organize students and professionals around the mission of MannMukti, foster community through grass-roots initiatives, and encourage local self-care.