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One Latina Talks About Breaking Down The Walls Of Stigma In The Latinx Community

In an ideal world, we would all play active roles in breaking down the mental health stigma. Dinner talks would be filled with

 “¿Mijo, cómo te has sentido?” 

“¿Cómo vas con tu medicina?” or

“¿Sigues yendo a yoga?” 

Showing emotion would be encouraged and vulnerability would be praised. 

But you and I both know, this isn’t the case when it comes to the world we live in. Growing up in the Central Valley, surrounded by what seemed like endless tomato fields, with two farm-working parents, I will be the first to admit that conversations about mental health were non-existent. Up until my last year of undergrad, I believed that anxiety attacks were an over-exaggeration of weak, pitiful people who couldn’t handle a little stress. Until of course, it happened to me. I suffered my first anxiety attack one night during my last semester at Fresno State. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced, and it changed my life forever. 

During the years that followed, I fought against cultural norms. For me, nothing else had worked, so I said ‘yes’ to therapy and anxiety medication, even when my family opposed it or didn’t quite understand it. It was hard. I felt misunderstood and out of place. I was conflicted about how people would judge me and my family if they found out that I sought outside help. 

But I am happy to report that things did get better. Therapy and medication helped tremendously, and my parents eventually came around to supporting my decision to seek help, primarily because they began to see the progress I was making. 

So yes, even though these conversations are tough, I believe they are absolutely necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our families and our future generations. Mental health conversations have to become an integral part of our families, especially within the cultural context.

There’s no doubt about it, the Latinx culture is beautiful! Its richness is felt in the music, food and strong family values. However, many aspects of the culture are not conducive for growth. Not being able to comfortably talk about our mental health because of the ensuing stigma is definitely one of them. Truth is, if we want to move our Latinx families forward, we must find ways to play a role in normalizing mental health conversations within our traditional families. There is no room for inaction. 

The good news is, you don’t have to be a hardcore mental health advocate to help! 

Empowered Bystanders Matter

We can choose to either be an empowered bystander or play an active role in this. Both can be equally important in normalizing these conversations. First, we must acknowledge that not everyone wants to be outspoken and actively pushing change forward. Regardless, empowered bystanders can still make a difference with what may seem like small insignificant acts. 

Here is how you can help as an empowered bystander: 

Withdraw from toxic dialogue.

Oftentimes within traditional family dynamics, we witness ideologies that are toxic for people experiencing mental health issues. Conversations in family reunions can sometimes be offensive and discouraging. As an empowered bystander, you have a choice to partake in this dialogue or completely withdraw from it. By simply choosing not to laugh at an offensive joke, for example, you take a subtle yet firm stance that you are not here for this, you do not agree with this behavior. 

Compare apples to apples.

You may not suffer from a mental health issue, but you can still observe and pinpoint opportunities for conversation. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say one of your siblings is contemplating taking medication for their mental health but is discouraged by your parent who says things like: 

“¡You don’t need that, you are not crazy,” or

“¡Que locuras! Mejor ponte a limpiar tu cuarto, es lo que debes de hacer!” 

As an empowered bystander, you have the power to respectfully interject and propose an idea like:

“Pa, how is that different from you taking your daily blood pressure medicine, you take that every day for you to function.”

In doing so, you suddenly propose a new thought, a new perspective. You don’t force change; you simply ask questions and initiate thoughtful conversations.  

For those of us who are personally impacted by mental health issues, and feel strongly about creating change, here is how you can help as an active participant: 

Embody and embrace the rebel persona. 

Within the cultural family context, we must acknowledge that taking an active role in breaking the mental health stigma often comes with feeling isolated. We will not always fit in. Understanding this upfront will make it easier to cope. We have to understand that our immediate family will not always be our frontline cheerleaders. This is 100% okay. Whether we receive support within our family or not, it is vital that we seek some type of support, through friendships or support groups. 

Be the example.

Do you suffer from a mental health issue? Do you take medication? Do you go to therapy? Living without shame and using your experiences to offer insight and a different perspective in conversations with folks is key to normalizing this subject within our families. Own your experiences, so they become the shining light for others struggling to find their voice. Showing them that you can thrive with your condition is the best type of education we can provide to our families.

To check out Your Story to Tell Academy’s Instagram go here.

This Beauty Pageant Queen Is Trading Her Crown For Her Doctor Scrubs To Help Tackle Coronavirus Pandemic

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This Beauty Pageant Queen Is Trading Her Crown For Her Doctor Scrubs To Help Tackle Coronavirus Pandemic

Dr Bhasha Mukherjee / Instagram

Bhasha Mukherjee won Miss England back in 2019 and took a career break as a junior doctor. The beauty queen had resolved to hang up her scrubs and focus on humanitarian work until August after receiving an invite to be an ambassador for several charities.

Bhasha Mukherjee took a career break as a junior doctor after competing in the Miss World pageant in December 2019.

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Sri Harminder Sahib. Outfit @kholbyroohi

A post shared by Dr Bhasha Mukherjee (@bhasha05) on

“I was invited to Africa, to Turkey, then to India, Pakistan and several other Asian countries to be an ambassador for various charity work,” Mukherjee told CNN in a recent interview.

Up until recently, the 24-year-old contestant winner had been living in India for four weeks on behalf of Coventry Mercia Lions Club. There she visited schools with donations and gave money to a home that supports abandoned girls. But according to CNN, as the coronavirus began to darken back in her home in the UK she began to receive messages from her former colleagues at her old hospital, the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston. Their stories of battling the hardships that come with the coronavirus moved her and ultimately Mukherjee made the decision to return to work.

Mukherjee has spoken up about her decision citing the various deaths around the world for inspiration to get back to work.

“When you are doing all this humanitarian work abroad, you’re still expected to put the crown on, get ready… look pretty. But.. I wanted to come back home. I wanted to come and go straight to work,” Mukherjee explained to CNN. “I felt a sense of this is what I’d got this degree for and what better time to be part of this particular sector than now.”

Mukherjee returned to the UK on Wednesday after working with the British High Commission in Kolkata to fly from India to London

“It was incredible the way the whole world was celebrating all key workers, and I wanted to be one of those, and I knew I could help,” she said. “There’s no better time for me to be Miss England and helping England at a time of need.”

Mukherjee says that she will self-isolate too.

As per requirements, Mukherjee will be in self-quarantine for two weeks until she returns back to work as a doctor at Pilgrim Hospital. As a practitioner in respiratory medicine, there is no doubt her presence as a physician is much needed during this time in which Coronavirus symptoms primarily come with chest and breathing issues.

Selena Gomez Reveals She Has Bipolar Disorder To Miley Cyrus During Instagram Show

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Selena Gomez Reveals She Has Bipolar Disorder To Miley Cyrus During Instagram Show

selenagomez

When it comes to health, there’s no denying that Selena Gomez has the right idea. The mental health advocate has done everything from opening up about her stints in rehab to her experience dealing with Lupus. Back, in 2018 Gomez took a public break from her music career. The singer had been traveling her for Revival world tour when she announced her decision to take a break to focus on her health. She cited anxiety, panic attacks and depression as side effects to her lupus diagnosis and expressed her need to take care of her health. Months later, Gomez revealed that her departure from the spotlight had been because of a need for a kidney transplant, which obtained due to complications from Lupus.

Now Gomez is opening up further about her mental health, this time speaking openly about a recent diagnosis.

Gomez says she was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder during a conversation on social media with Miley Cyrus.

Speaking to Cyrus about her mental health, Gomez explained that recently she had visited “one of the best mental hospitals in America, McLean Hospital, and I discussed that after years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar. And so when I got to know more information, it actually helps me. It doesn’t scare me once I know it.”

Gomez went onto further explain her experience with mental health, by sharing issues within her own family.

“I’ve seen some of it even in my own family, where I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I’m from Texas. It’s just not known to talk about mental health,” Gomez explained. “You got to seem cool. And then I see anger built up in children and teenagers or whatever young adults because they are wanting that so badly. I just feel like when I finally said what I was going to say, I wanted to know everything about it. And it took the fear away.”

Gomez and Cyrus reconnected on Instagram and opened up about self-isolation in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about handling quarantine-life during this time, Cyrus explained “A lot of it is connecting with people that maybe you haven’t been the greatest to that you may not have thought about,” she said. “I feel like there’s been a lot of people I’ve gotten to do that with not necessarily saying it was bad, but just saying, ‘Hey, I hope you’re safe. I hope you’re doing okay,’ and that you know you’re on my side. I’m only sending you love from this end.'”