It all began with a promise.
A promise to share the lessons I had learned in pain to give hope to at least one person struggling with a mental health condition.
I was born and raised in Bangalore, India, amidst ancient traditions, and a large, loving extended family. My happy childhood, however, gave way to a traumatic adolescence. By the time I was 18, I was debilitated by generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. At 23, as a young mother in America, I struggled to free myself from the death-hold of depression.
On April 30, 1989, confined in the seclusion room in a psychiatric ward in America, stripped of freedom, dignity, hope and humanity, I promised to emerge a messenger of hope and healing. For every indignity that I had suffered in shame and silence, I promised to fight to restore my dignity and the dignity of others like me around the world. And for every moment that my family and I had lived in despair, I promised to bring hope to the lives of others like us.
ASHA International is the culmination of that promise!
When I started ASHA International, all I wanted was to share the lessons I had learned in pain, to bring hope to one person struggling with a mental health condition. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have the opportunity to give hope to thousands of people around the world. Over the years, I have met amazing men, women and children struggling with mental health conditions around the world whose courage and resilience has taught me that mental illness has no barriers of age, gender, race, culture or socio-economic status. And, more importantly, hope and healing have no boundaries. I have also learned that there is no health without mental health. Mental health is integral to the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
Since the launch of our programs in 2006, my colleagues and I have had the privilege of reaching out and touching the lives of more than 50,000 people nationally and internationally with a resounding message of hope and wellbeing.
Together, we are tearing down the insidious walls of stigma and shame, and empowering people on their road to recovery and wellbeing, one day, one person at a time.
We are deeply grateful to all the people and organizations around the world who have supported our work. Together, we will continue to create communities of acceptance, empathy and inclusion where every man, woman and child struggling with a mental health condition will find the love and support they need to pursue their fullest potential.
“Ramprasad writes eloquently about depression and the process of building a meaningful life in the face of mental illness.”
– Andrew Solomon, award-winning author of The Noonday Demon
“This is not just a book for advocates of global mental health; it is a book for anyone who cares about human suffering and justice, and should serve as a call to arms for them to join the movement to achieve a better life for those living with mental illness today.”
– Vikram Patel, MBBS, PhD, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
“This book is a true gift to all those struggling with a mental disorder and those of us who love them. In writing it, Gayathri Ramprasad establishes herself as an international voice of hope.”
– Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness