A new mental health resource website for South Asian Americans called MannMukti launched this month, a month designated in the U.S. as Mental Health Awareness Month. MannMukti’s website features testimonials from South Asians who’ve lived with mental illness, including personal experiences with anxiety, mood, personality and eating disorders, in addition to other mental health conditions.
Abhijith (Abhi) Ravinutala founded MannMukti, translating to “mental liberation” in Hindi, after the death of a friend who had schizophrenia. Ravinutala plans to pursue graduate studies in religion, and in an interview with The Daily Texan, he spoke about his desire to raise awareness and encourage communication about mental health issues in the South Asian diaspora:
“In 2015, my childhood best friend passed away due to difficulties with schizophrenia,” Ravinutala said. “He never tried to talk to me or his parents about his problems, and I knew I wanted to do something to help other South Asians get past the stigma of mental illness, speak up and seek help.”
Many South Asian Americans maintain an unhealthy silence about mental health issues, leading to stigma, discomfort and even suicide. According to Sunita Sohrabji’s report for India West, the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) found that a higher percentage of South Asian Americans, especially ages 15-24, exhibit depressive symptoms and that there is a higher rate of suicide among young South Asian American women than the general U.S. population.
MannMukti aims to help South Asians connect with each other to talk and learn more about mental health with its web-based open forum, background information on mental health conditions and treatments, plus resources for finding local mental health professionals and national advocacy and South Asian groups. Website visitors can also read research and articles on the links between immigration, South Asian culture, and mental health. Social Ambassadors, volunteers who “play an integral role in reducing stigma by advocating for mental health awareness in their local communities,” are also part of MannMukti’s outreach into South Asian communities.
The recently launched podcast series “Stories of Stigma: South Asian Mental Health” is another platform MannMukti uses to raise awareness and fight stigmas. The series plans to host interviews with mental health experts, and the first episode features an interview with Megha Pulianda, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and working as a licensed professional counselor intern. The episode begins with Ravinutala and Buddy Tangellamudi sharing how MannMukti was founded and its journey to this month’s launch. Have a listen to hear their story of its start: