Indian American Students Form Group to Fight Mental Health Stigma

SHAKTI AllieGoulding WEB

Indian American Students Form Group to Fight Mental Health Stigma

Six Indian American students have come together to form a social justice organization – I-AM-SHAKTI that will launch this fall. The organization has been founded by DivyaSridar, a student of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Sridar herself dealt with an eating disorder last year. However, her support system was her friends, professors, and therapistfrom her campus, who helped her recover. It was then; she felt the need to address the issue of mental health that stigmatized many Indian Americans who didn’t know how to discuss it, The Daily Northwestern reports.

Her teammates include McCormick freshman Shyam Mani, SESP junior AishwaryaChenji, Feinberg first-year student ArchitBaskaran, University of Wisconsin junior RagashreeKomandur and Feinberg first-year student Mohan Ravi.

I-AM-SHAKTI will help create dialogue to provide comfort to those with mental illness while educating communities to become better support groups.

The organization’s main focus is to help Indian Americans deal with mental illness. They feel there is a need to educate parents who are insensitive to mental health issues.

Sridar and her team want to provide a platform for Indian Americans recovering from mental illness to be united and face challenges. “Another aspect of it is sensitizing parents and communities in what we’re going through,” she added.

RagashreeKomandur, who is from Milwaukee, said since Indian Americans come from two cultural backgrounds they need to embrace their Indian culture and identity while thriving in the community as Americans.

The organization wants to spread to a national level social justice movement. I-AM-SHAKTI plans for parental support groups, where parents can ask questions about their child’s mental health issues, seek advice and in turn become sensitized.

The organization does not cater to college students alone, but to all age groups. They want people suffering from mental health issues to express themselves through story writing, art, music, videos or dance; and aims to build a network of competent therapists.