Archives for May 2016

You Can Recover – Chacku’s Message of Hope

Ever since I met Chacku at a conference nearly a decade ago, he has been a brother and dear friend to me. A loving son, husband and father, Chacku is dedicated to creating a better world for us all. He is the Director of the NAMI STAR Center and a leader in the Peer Movement, a movement that once saved his life.
As a toddler, Chacku moved to the U.S. from Kuwait and growing up, he didn’t feel like he belonged. He was bullied at school and watched his parents treated with hostility, and started to mistrust everyone including his family. Feeling unsafe and unable to cope with his feelings of isolation and dread, he got into fights and began using drugs. And, at fifteen, he tried to kill himself. Fortunately, his father sought help at their local church and Chacku discovered peers who empathized with his struggles and inspired him to discover his life’s purpose – to help others like himself. “Our struggles often help us discover who we are, and our purpose in life” Chacku says, “We are the evidence that recovery is possible.”
Give Hope
Share your story. Give hope. Change a life.

3 Things You Can Do To Be the Hope

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!
Thanks to each and every one of you for your love and support over the years in helping us promote mental health awareness, and empower people on their road to recovery.
This year, as we prepare to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of ASHA International, I am filled with gratitude that my colleagues and I have had the privilege of reaching out and touching the lives of more than 45,000 people nationally and internationally with a resounding message of hope and recovery. Together, we are tearing down the insidious walls of shame and stigma, and empowering people on their road to recovery and wellness, one day, one person at a time.
I invite you to partner with us in our continued outreach. Together, we can change lives, perhaps even save lives.
There are 3 things you can do to Be the Hope:
  1. Support a loved one
  2. Share your story
  3. Give the gift of hope  
Thank you for your valuable support.

Wishing you wellness,

Gayathri Signature
Founder & President
ASHA International

How to support a loved one struggling with mental health issues


When I fist started struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and depression at eighteen, my family and I had no understanding about mental health issues. Unfortunately, neither did the doctors, many of whom told my parents that I was just being a “drama queen,” a “typical teenager.” “Tough love” was prescribed and doled out each day, which only alienated me from my parents and turned them into strangers I feared. Eventually, I began feeling like a pariah in my own home, and began to crumble without their love, understanding and support. Over the years, our home which was once a fortress of love, became a prison from which I couldn’t escape.

It wasn’t until I had survived through seven years of hell and tried to kill myself, that my parents finally took me to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with depression for the first time, and began to treat me. It took two more years of failed suicide attempts and hospitalizations before my family and I finally began to educate ourselves about mental health issues. A caring intern at the hospital told my family that it wasn’t enough for me to educate myself about depression, it was critical that they educat themselves about mental health issues, if they wanted to support me in my road to recovery and wellness. Fortunately, my parents did, and have since grown into the greatest support system in my life. Over the years, they have also reached out to others struggling in the community.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders.

I sincerely believe that families and caregivers can be the greatest support system to a loved one struggling with mental health issues. But, they often don’t know how to help. They are often confused and overwhelmed in encouraging a loved one to seek the treatment and support they need. Please see the infographic below developed by NAMI and HealthCentral for some ideas on how to support a loved one struggling with mental health issues. Please share this blog post with your friends and family. You never know whose life you can change, perhaps even save.

How to help a loved one