Let’s Talk

I still remember sitting with my mother in a psychiatrist’s office in Bangalore, India. After seven years of suffering through undiagnosed panic attacks and depression, I had finally tried to kill myself. And, my family physician had referred me to a psychiatrist.

“I pray that no one we know sees us here Gayu” my mother had whispered into my ears, her voice filled with fear.

Within minutes of talking with me, the psychiatrist had a diagnosis – I had been struggling with major depression. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding the diagnosis became a noose around my neck, sentencing my family and I into a life of shame and secrecy. For years, we did not talk about my struggles with family or friends. And, despite access to mental health services, I cycled in and out of depression, suicide attempts and hospitalizations. Eventually, confined in the seclusion room of a psychiatric ward in America, stripped of freedom, dignity, hope and humanity, I finally decided to break the silence and talk about my struggles with mental illness. I began talking with family, friends and even strangers. Looking back, talking about my mental illness was the first step in freeing myself from the stranglehold of stigma and shame. Talking about my mental illness also gave me the courage to embrace my humanity and ask for the treatment and support I needed to recover and thrive.

Depression affects 350 million people of all ages, from all walks of life, and in all countries around the world. It impacts people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, and can have a devastating impact on their ability to earn a living, and their relationships with family and friends. When left untreated, depression can lead to suicide.

Talking about depression and other mental health conditions is the first step in destigmatizing mental illness and encouraging people to get the lifesaving treatment and support they need. Please join ASHA International in supporting the World Health Organization’s campaign  Let’s Talk to promote awareness about depression and encourage people struggling with depression around the world to get the help they need. To learn how you can make a difference, please click here…

Let’s Talk about mental health at home, at work and in the community. Together, we can create a world of understanding, compassion and inclusion where every man, woman and child struggling with a mental health condition will find the love and support they need to create a healthy, meaningful, productive life.

ASHA Interantional turns 10!

Happy World Mental Health Day!

10th-anniversary-2Ten years ago, I started ASHA International with a simple wish – to share the lessons I had learned in pain to give hope to at least one person struggling with a mental health issue. Thanks to your love and support, over the years 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 healing.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health issues impose an enormous disease burden on societies across the world. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50%, from 416 million to 615 million. Despite its enormous health, social and economic burden, mental disorders continue to be driven into the shadows by stigma, prejudice and fear.

At ASHA International, we are dedicated to bringing mental health issues out of the shadows and into the light. We are also dedicated to destigmatizing mental health issues and empowering people to find the treatment and support they need to recover and thrive.

Please give the Gift of Hope today, and partner with us as we embark on another exciting decade dedicated to promoting mental health and wellness at home, at school, at work, and in the community. Together, we can change lives, perhaps even save lives.

Namaste,

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Founder & President, ASHA International

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Bekha MilesOn August 23, 2015, Bekah Miles sat in her chair, staring. Could she do it? Would she do it? No. Yes. She was so tired of hiding, tired of pretending, tired of her illness. But since that wasn’t going to change anytime soon, maybe it was time to change her approach. To take her life back, if she could. After ten minutes of debating, she did what millions do every minute – she clicked the “post” button. Then she walked away from Facebook, torn between chewing her fingernails down to stubs and shrugging her shoulders and insisting it was no big deal. Bekah’s Facebook post was only intended for family and friends, but within days it had reached millions, starting a national and international conversation about depression.

Mental health issues are a leading impediment to the health and wellbeing of high school and college students. Left untreated, mental illness – including anxiety, depression and eating disorders, can lead to school failure, family conflicts, substance abuse, violence, juvenile & criminal justice involvement, and even suicide. Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined. Treatment is effective. Yet, because of the shame and stigma surrounding these issues, mental health is not discussed and too many students are suffering in silence. Bekah wants to change that – She wants to share her story to dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness, and encourage fellow students to seek the help and support they need to recover and thrive.

I am delighted to share that Bekah recently joined ASHA International’s Speakers Bureau, and will be sharing her story with  students at Century High School on March 17, 2016, and with students at her alma mater Canby High School on April 1, 2016.

Rebekah (Bekah) Miles is currently a student at George Fox University. She is working on a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies, and is looking forward to graduating in the fall of 2016.

Key Topics:  Depression, Advocacy, Stigma Reduction, Navigating the Health System, Advocating for Change.

If you’d like to book Bekah to speak at your high school or college, please contact Gayathri Ramprasad at gayathri@myasha.org or 971 340 7190.