asha international mental health

We Give Hope

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,

GR signature

 

 

 

Founder & President, ASHA International

You Can Recover – Jennifer’s Message of Hope

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Marshall, Co-Founder of This is My Brave an amazing community of advocates dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness by sharing our true personal stories through poetry, essay, and song.

Jenn was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder in 2006 at the age of 26. She’s had four hospitalizations within five years – two before any diagnosis was reached, and two more because she was trying to protect her newborn son (postpartum psychosis) and her unborn daughter – and all were because she was unmedicated at the time. Writing her way through life with a mental illness became her way of healing, and her award-winning blog BipolarMomLife has become an inspiration to many.

Jenn created This Is My Brave because she learned first hand how powerful and therapeutic it was to live openly and not hide her diagnosis. She wanted to give brave individuals from the community a platform through which to creatively share their stories of living with mental illness to educate and inspire others. She lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and two children. Jenn is the living proof that people with mental illness can recover and rebuild healthy, meaningful, productive lives. Her work was recently featured in the Oprah Magazine. Jenn wants people struggling with mental health issues around the world to know that they are not alone. There is hope and help. And, regardless of their struggles, they can recover.

Health Benefits of Social Connectedness

Gayathri and Dad

 

On June 8th, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Mental Health America Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. Later that night, I called my parents in India and learned that my 81-year-old father had a fall and was unconscious for a few minutes. He had survived esophageal cancer recently but was struggling to breathe. So, I decided to cut short my stay at the conference, return home to Portland immediately, and rush to India to see my dad. Unfortunately, by the time I landed in St. Louis en route to Portland, I learned through a social media post that my father had passed away. My whole world collapsed. Riding on his favorite Java motorbike as a little girl, I had thought my father was invincible…I still wanted him to be. He was my hero. The man who twirled me around until I broke into giggles, the man who had taught me to dream big and work hard, the man who called me “Princess” and treated me like one. Heartbroken, I collapsed in my seat sobbing, as the plane taxied.

I am deeply grateful to the love and support of strangers on that plane who helped me get off the plane and board my connecting flight to Portland. I am deeply grateful to my husband and daughters who helped me get on a plane to India within hours of landing so I could be with my mother and siblings to grieve and celebrate my father’s life. And, I am deeply grateful to our extended family and friends who held us in their embrace, and helped us get through the difficult times. Together, we smiled through our tears, chanted my father’s favorite yogic chants, and a dear friend and professional singer presented a house concert with his favorite songs. I miss my dad terribly and will cherish his love forever. And, I am most grateful for the network of friends, family and strangers who continue to strengthen me on my journey forward.

As Emma Seppala, Ph.D. writes in her article Contentedness & Health, social connections improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being, boosts immunity, and lowers level of anxiety and depression. Over the years, I have learned that social contentedness also helps us build the resilience we need to navigate through life’s ups and downs.

I invite you to make time to nurture and enjoy your relationships with family and friends. And, enjoy the many health benefits of social contentedness.

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
DO YOU HAVE A RECOVERY STORY?
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

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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

You Can Recover: Robyn’s Message of Hope

Since the first time I met Robyn at the Aleternatives Conference in 2015, I have been in awe of her sense of adventure and huge heart. Although she just turned 50, she has lived and worked in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, propogating the power of peer support around the world. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she has never let other people’s perceptions of what she can and cannot do deter her from living the life of her dreams. When asked what has helped her recover and thrive, she said, “the love and support of her global network of family and friends, her dog, and meaningful work.”

Robyn is the embodiment of the quote: “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” Thank you Robyn for bringing hope and healing to people struggling with mental health issues around the world. You are a HOPEBRINGER!

 

You Can Recover: Khatera’s Message of Hope

As a little girl, Khatera moved with her family from Afghanistan to the U.S. Growing up, she felt like an outsider and was overwhelmed with the responsibility of interpreting and advocating for the survival of her family. Over the years, she struggled with ADHD, anxiety and depression. Today, Khatera is a mother and mental health activist. She wants to let people struggling with mental health issues around the world know that “no matter what your struggles are, YOU CAN RECOVER.”

SEE MORE RECOVERY VIDEOS

DO YOU HAVE A RECOVERY STORY?

Stories have the power to inform, inspire and transform lives. If you have a recovery story, please  submit your story today. Your story will educate people about mental health issues, eliminate stigma, and give HOPE to people struggling with mental health issues, and let them know recovery is possible.

The post You Can Recover: Khatera’s Message of Hope appeared first on Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad.

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.

You Can Recover: Khatera’s Story

As a little girl, Khatera moved with her family from Afghanistan to the U.S. Growing up, she felt like an outsider and was overwhelmed with the responsibility of interpreting and advocating for the survival of her family. Over the years, she struggled with ADHD, anxiety and depression. Today, Khatera is a mother and mental health activist. She wants to let people struggling with mental health issues around the world know that “no matter what your struggles are, YOU CAN RECOVER.”

SEE MORE RECOVERY VIDEOS

DO YOU HAVE A RECOVERY STORY?

Stories have the power to inform, inspire and transform lives. If you have a recovery story, please  submit your story today. Your story will educate people about mental health issues, eliminate stigma, and give HOPE to people struggling with mental health issues, and let them know recovery is possible.

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