Mental visiting one who is very linked

Mental illness is an issue that impacts all cultures, including South Asia however, the issue continues to be taboo due to izzat and misunderstanding, resulting in shame, victims going untreated, and suicides.The concept of izzat, or honor, is paramount in South Asian families.  South Asian children are brought up being taught that their izzat is something to hold onto no matter what. A family’s izzat holds their rank as well as reputation. Mental illness is viewed as a hush-hush topic, and is associated with guilt, shame, and selfishness – , and discussing it outside closed doors is risking harm to a family’s izzat.  Often, mental illness is seen as a lack of faith with God. Praying is the default answer that is produced when it is brought up in the household. It is believed that obstacles that appear in one’s life are mere tests of God, and if they are not overcame then ones connection with God is clearly lacking. In rural India and Pakistan, it is not unusual for families to take their children to men and women who are known as faith healers and claim to be able to ‘cure’ the child through divine intervention. Families feel more comfortable taking children to these people rather than physicians as they believe that doctors should only be contacted for physical illnesses, and that visiting one who is very linked with God brings positivity to their izzat.  “Weaknesses and struggles with faith are not mentioned because no one wants to be told that the devil is possessing them or that they are a terrible Muslim. Being told you’re a terrible Muslim and mental illness is your punishment is a terrible feeling” (Sikdar, 2017).This teaching creates doubt in the minds of the individuals who are struggling. As well as struggling with their illness and trying to keep their family’s izzat, they now ponder their love for their faith. These doubts lead to even more doubts and eventually snowball to create a never-ending feeling of confusion and anxiety, which can lead to further mental health issues as they grow up. Izzat, and more importantly the sharam or shame that is so closely entwined with it, has a notable effect on South Asian women as well. Women in countries like India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh who are suffering will mental illnesses  are forced to keep quiet about their hardships due to the izzat of their families. Disclosure of illness can harm the prospects of a future rishta, or marriage proposal, for the female, thus  tarnishing her and her families izzat.  In South Asian culture, it is crucial that a young woman stay  ‘healthy’ and proper, as young adulthood is when she should start receiving offers for her hand in marriage. While native South Asian women are more likely to be forced to suffer through mental illness in silence, South Asian women living in Western countries with mental illnesses also often go untreated due to their parents bringing over the deeply rooted traditional values of  izzat and sharam. Since it is difficult to find rishtas in the Western world, a woman in her 20’s who experiences anxiety or depression often goes untreated because her illness is thought to be ‘made up’, and is concealed due to the looming threat that her rishtas may decrease if word got around that she was mentally ill.The confinement of mental illnesses and the stigma surrounding the issue has lead to numerous suicides in South Asia. Studies show that South Asian woman in the United States have a higher suicide rate than the rest of the population. Of course many factors account for this high rate, however family disputes and mental illnesses are cited as some of the causes.  India, a nation that contains 17.5% of the world’s population, also has one of the worlds highest suicide rates for youth. It is reported that every hour, a student in India commits suicide.  “These deaths result from poor relationships with parents, excessive expectations, the feeling of being unwanted, poor understanding of their peer/romantic relationships. These result in an impulsive decision or a long thought-out deliberate suicide,” (Saldhana, 2017).Earlier in 2017, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone opened up about her battle with depression. Padukone, 32, revealed to fans that she constantly fears relapse and that her ‘depressive ruts’ were the worst times of her life. After talking out about her ongoing war with mental illness, Padukone admitted that she had some roles taken away from her after opening up about her battle. The actress stated that it did not phase her in the slightest way, as she wanted South Asian youth to know that it gets better and that talking about mental health should be accepted, especially in today’s society. Padukone started the Live Love Laugh foundation back in 2015, an organization that helps those dealing with depression as well as raises awareness about mental health in India. It offers youth tips on how to deal with stress and how to take care of themselves to ensure that their minds stay healthy. It is time for parents to realize that one cannot just grow thicker skin through prayer and perseverance, proper therapy and medication is just as important. Opening up to one another should not be seen as weak, yet it should be seen as a sign of trust, to be able to be so vulnerable to the ones you trust. Every forty seconds, there is one suicide across the globe. That is one life lost every forty seconds. One life that had meaning, had value, and had the power to do anything they wanted to do if they had the resources they needed to help them. The suicide rate among youth in South Asia is shameful and needs to be talked about. It is time for older generation to step down from their pedestals and start recognizing and listening to the pleas for help that the younger generation desperately sends out.  A family’s izzat is not worth more than the life of their beloved daughter. A family’s sharam is not worth more than their son’s mental stability. The stigma surrounding mental illness in South Asia needs to be broken, and the current generation is taking the proper steps towards that goal.