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SAPHA - South Asian Public Health Association - logo

Newsletter- June 2024

June 2024 Newsletter


Celebrating Pride

June marks Pride Month, an opportunity to uplift the LGBTQ+ community in the United States and across the world. The LGBTQ+ community has seen great milestones throughout its vast history, and this month allows us to celebrate progress, while still acknowledging the continued struggles LGBTQ+ individuals still face today.

Compared to heterosexual counterparts, LGBTQ+ individuals in the US face disproportionate risk for living in poverty, lacking access to insurance and timely healthcare, and worsened mental and physical health symptoms. These disparities are heightened in severity for LGBTQ+ people of color.

Queer and transgender South Asians in the US are placed in a unique position: although they might live in a country with legal protections for marriage and affirming care, they also witness many of their home countries neglecting to recognize the rights of their community. Further, many LGBTQ+ South Asians across the world struggle to be open about their identity, due to the continued prevalence of homophobia/transphobia and stigma in our culture.

The health and human rights of the LGBTQ+ community is a public health issue, especially in today’s global political climate, where access to affirming care and other rights are continuously challenged. More work must be done to ensure equity and justice for this population, and it is our job as public health professionals to strengthen the health of the LGBTQ+ community as much as we can. 

We encourage you to uplift your queer and transgender community  and support them at Pride events near you. We also encourage you to check out the work of Queer Desi organizations working to tackle stigma and increase acceptance within our community, including the South Asian Sexual and Mental Health Alliance (SASMHA), Desi Rainbow, and Desi lgbtQ+ Helpline (DEQH). 

Mental Health in the South Asian Community

Here at SAPHA we are continuing the conversation about mental health, a topic critical to continuously uplift within the South Asian community. Mental health is often viewed as stigmatized within the South Asian community, making discussions around seeking mental health services aberrant and difficult to normalize. Many view mental health as a taboo topic, and our community sometimes regards conversations around the topic as unnecessary, which can lead to internalizing not needing to reach out for help (Psychology Today, 2023). 

Making the decision to seek help is even harder when community beliefs perpetuate stigma (NAMI, 2023). Organizations like SAKHI work to create conversation around mental health by destigmatizing the topic and providing a space where South Asians can be connected to resources. Once help is sought, however, some South Asians feel that therapists not of their background can’t fully understand what they’re going through, making it difficult to connect (Center for Mindfulness & CBT) with the care provider. Organizations like Brown Girl Therapy (NBC News, 2024) and Gaya (ABC7 News, 2024) are working to change this; these groups are sensitive to the stigma around mental health within South Asian culture, and the battle it takes to make the decision to seek help, whether a person’s community is supportive of it or not. 

We recommend you explore the resources below to help you begin conversations with family and friends about mental health:

3 Tips For South-Asian Individuals Seeking Mental Health Support

Reverse the silent mental health crisis in South Asian communities

How to Start (and Continue!) a Conversation About Mental Health

How to have conversations around mental health

How to Talk to Parents or Guardian

Addressing Health-Based Inequities: SAPHA Workshop on Caste-Based Discrimination

Last weekend, SAPHA Board and Committee members attended SAPHA's Health Equity Workshop on "Caste Based Discrimination- A Public Health Issue". Thank you to Dadasaheb Tandale for sharing his research on how caste discrimination results in health equities for Dalit women in the Indian context, as well as policy and advocacy call-ins to address caste discrimination within the South Asian diaspora at large in the US. Caste very much exists in South Asian communities in the US, and as health professionals, it is important to advocate for anti-caste based discrimination legislation and understand how caste impacts health and well-being.

Stay tuned for SAPHA's upcoming toolkit on 'Caste as a Public Health Issue in the US' that will uplift research, resources, talking points, policy + advocacy, and recommended reading lists!

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth highlights the importance of community well-being, equality, and justice. As South Asian Americans, it is  vital to engage in activities that promote understanding and collaboration with the Black community. Building strong, inclusive communities requires us to understand each other's journeys and work together towards common goals.

  • Education and awareness are key. Learning about Juneteenth and the struggles faced by African Americans fosters empathy and helps address health disparities rooted in systemic injustices.

  • Engage in dialogue and collaboration between South Asian and Black communities promotes public health. Attend cross-cultural events and join organizations focused on racial justice to build strong relationships and address health inequities.

  • Support Black-owned businesses. Shopping, dining, and using services from these businesses uplift the Black community’s economic status, enhancing overall community well-being.

  • Amplify voices and challenge stereotypes. Share stories, achievements, and art from the Black community on your platforms to promote understanding and dismantle stereotypes.

  • Collaborate on public health initiatives. Support organizations working towards racial justice, equality, and improved health outcomes through donations, volunteering, or offering skills.

Research and News Highlights

Volunteers wanted for South Asian Alzheimer’s study

Utah South Asian Cardiovascular Health Initiative (U-SACHI), an intervention aimed at improving cardiovascular health among South Asian populations.

Study to Focus on Cardio Health in Asian American, Pacific Islander Communities

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has launched a seven-year study called MOSAAIC to examine cardiovascular and other health conditions in a diverse cohort of 10,000 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander adults across the U.S., aiming to address health disparities and advance health equity within these underrepresented groups. The study will involve six research institutions and focus on various health factors, including lung health, mental health, and social determinants of health.

Exploring the Health Benefits of Traditional Diets

Women Heroes in South Asia: Charting a New Course Against Plastics Pollution

The Colorado Lotus Project: A Statewide Look at the Strengths and Barriers Facing Colorado’s Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Communities. Read the full report here

Understand the Current Heat/ Environmental Crisis Affecting South Asia

Why Climate Finance is Crucial for Addressing South Asia's Extreme Heat Crisis

How heat waves form, and how climate change makes them worse

South East Asia records highest deaths due to climate change every year: WHO

Freak April heatwave in Southeast Asia ‘virtually impossible’ without climate crisis

Organizational Spotlight

Act To Change is a national organization working to end bullying for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth. Starting in 2015 as a White House initiative, in partnership with the Sikh Coalition and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, the campaign transitioned into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by actor and former White House AAPI Commissioner Maulik Pancholy. 

Act To Change accomplishments include   

  • +10,000 anti-bullying pledges, +1,000 youth reached with anti-bullying workshops, and +40 youth trained and empowered through its ambassador program
  • Engagements with national leaders and rallying the nation annually since 2019 to mark National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate 

Take the pledge and join the movement to stop AAPI bullying and hate. You can follow Act to Change and their work on X (formerly Twitter)Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Read about SAPHA’s commitment and support for ACT to Change.

South Asian Public Health Association Spotlight Series

Our Spotlight Series celebrates the remarkable careers and journeys of public health trailblazers within the South Asian community. In our sixth episode, we feature Dr. Amita N. Vyas, a tenured Professor at George Washington University and Co-Founder of the Global India Fund, whose career focuses on the health and well-being of women, children, and families worldwide.

Catch up on our fifth episode on Spotify or YouTube, and stay tuned for Dr. Vyas' spotlight next week!

Thank you for reading our newsletter!

Join SAPHA in our mission to advance health equity and well-being in the South Asian community. Your support fuels vital research, advocacy, and outreach initiatives addressing pressing public health challenges. Together, we can make a meaningful impact today.

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