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Cultural Sensitivity, Pregnancy, and Mental Health

Cultural Sensitivity, Pregnancy, and Mental Health

Originally  published on Psychology Today February 20, 2022  Interview with Dr. Saramati Krishna of Northwest Women’s Clinic in Portland, OR KEY POINTS Cultural sensitivity makes a difference in the relationship between patient and care provider I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Saramati Krishna, who is an OB-GYN with Northwest Women’s Clinic. We discussed cultural sensitivity and mental health for pregnant women. ML: As an OB-GYN who’s fluent in multiple languages, and advocating for mental health through ASHA International, what challenges do you see to a woman’s mental health while she’s pregnant? SK: I see lots of mental health issues affecting women. Being able to speak multiple languages is a window into the way other people view their mental health and are able to advocate for themselves. My ability to be able to partner with other people is so much better because of communicating in different languages. Sometimes there aren’t even words for some of the things people express. I have to come with an approximation for someone to say something like ‘depression’. In an Indian language, it wouldn’t come out as a direct translation. People may something like ‘my heart is sick’, or ‘I’m feeling heavy or low.’ So to be able to understand what that means and having that window into another culture is very powerful. ML: Wow! I could imagine. How often are pregnant women’s temporary mental illness challenges resolved with childbirth? SK: Childbirth is a stressful period of time in a lot of people’s lives. I don’t see them resolved very often when the baby is born. Childbirth isn’t a fix. A lot of times, it unmasks...
When the News Is Personal: Teens, Anxiety, and Depression

When the News Is Personal: Teens, Anxiety, and Depression

Originally  published on Psychology Today January 18, 2022  An interview with mental health beat reporter Genevieve Reaume. I had the pleasure of speaking with Genevieve Reaume, mental health beat reporter with KATU in Portland, Oregon, and board member of ASHA International. ML: Genevieve, what started your interest in mental health for youths? GR: Once I learned more about my mental health as a high schooler, I got more open about it, but I still struggled a lot. I resolved some issues as I grew older, but circled back when I was offered the spot to be lead reporter on KIB (Kind Is Better), which was KATU’s year-long initiative to focus on youth mental health. That’s when I dove into it. I was passionate for the project because, when I was a youth, I had no idea what I was going through and went undiagnosed for a long time. It was an incredible opportunity. The year was transformative for me but also for our viewers. The teaching in journalism school prior was to avoid reporting on suicide for fear of copycat suicides. We learned that was wrong. In Portland, we decided we’d cover it and talk to these families because it was happening too much. We talked with a lot of families, and it was an incredibly hard year. In some senses, it was triggering for me. It was a lot to handle. We learned how to cover this topic in an appropriate way. We had to forge our own path because there was no guidebook for us. We took the mental health professionals’ lead and tried our best. That’s how I got engaged,...
Making Anxiety, Depression, and Self-Harm Past-Tense

Making Anxiety, Depression, and Self-Harm Past-Tense

Originally  published on Psychology Today December 27, 2021  Part I: How Yamini Rajan overcame barriers to seek help. KEY POINTS Immigrants, especially youth, can experience serious challenges to their emotional stability. Having a counselor to mediate a difficult conversation with parents can be life-saving. ML: Yamini, you began to experience anxiety, depression, and self-harm pretty young. What were the barriers to seeking help? YR: I lived in India until I was 12; I didn’t know there was help. It’s not something that’s really talked about. I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to feel that way. I just thought it was normal for a long time. Things built up to a breaking point. We moved to the US, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer about three months after. It was difficult being so young and halfway across the world and trying to figure out how to fit into a new school, who were going to be my friends. There were new teachers and an entirely new culture that I tried to navigate. My parents weren’t able to be as present as they would have liked because they had to focus on my mom’s health. I was very lonely, angry, and sad all at the same time. I didn’t want to say anything because the move wasn’t just tough on me; it was tough for my little sister who started at a new elementary school. My father started work. My parents were in their 40s; it’s not easy for anyone. What if I did speak up and no one understood? What if I was told I was being too sensitive? In my head, I thought:...
My Story: Immigration Through COVID-19 – Yamini Rajan

My Story: Immigration Through COVID-19 – Yamini Rajan

When COVID first struck, I, like many other college students found myself back in my childhood bedroom. We abruptly transitioned to lectures on Zoom, curfews, and memories of high school while convincing ourselves that we would be back at school soon enough. Yet, while I adjusted to the new normal, I had to simultaneously prepare myself for another drastic change. We first heard that we would have to move back in October 2019, about two months into my freshman year of college. “There’s a backlog in processing green cards right now,” my dad explained as we drove to the airport at the end of Fall Break. In theory, the problem seemed simple, our visas were expiring and the hold in the immigration system meant we wouldn’t be receiving our permanent residency in time, which meant we would have to leave the U.S. But the reality of this situation consumed our family for the following ten months. It meant my dad leaving the U.S for three months in an effort to extend our visas and my mom staying up for nights on end trying to comprehend complex legal jargon and coordinating calls between lawyers. It meant my sister having to go to school every day knowing that the senior year she had been looking forward to for the past three years would no longer be happening. For me, it meant watching my family undergo all of these two thousand miles away and try to balance my life in college at the same time. Every conversation revolved around new updates from the lawyers, trying to learn the names of different immigration forms,...
Mental Health For All – A Conversation with Dr. Vikram Patel

Mental Health For All – A Conversation with Dr. Vikram Patel

I recently had an insightful and thought-provoking conversation with Dr. Vikram Patel on how to address inequities in mental health care and ensure mental health for all. Dr. Vikram Patel is The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO which won the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008 and was listed in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential persons of the year in 2015. His accomplishments are far too many to...
Happy World Mental Health Day!

Happy World Mental Health Day!

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. It’s a day to remind ourselves that mental health is an integral part of our well-being. And, take time each day to nurture our mental health. Over the last seven months, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended and impacted every aspect of our lives – including our mental health. The uncertainly, fears, isolation and loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is having a detrimental impact on our mental health & wellbeing. And, it’s ok to not feel ok. You are not alone. We are here to help. We have over 150 Stories of Hope, a wide range of Health & Wellness Articles, and a list of organizations to help you and your loved ones take care of your mental health & wellbeing. Please check out these resources on our website. Be safe. Be strong. Together, we will emerge through these difficult times kinder, stronger and more resilient....
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