Week 1 – Introduction
Hello everyone! Thank you so much for your interest in my project!
My name is Savitha Senthilkumar and my project will dive into how the knowledge and passing down of information about South Asian history impacts the mental health of South Asian youth in the Bay Area. By the end of my project, I hope to offer policymakers and healthcare administration new perspectives on ways to further promote the inclusion of South Asian Americans.
Mental health stigma continues to persist in society despite the strides that have been made so far. As such, it is essential to understand the underlying factors that go into mental health and accessing services in order to improve them to promote diversity.
One factor, ethnicity, remains a large factor in how youth feel included in the community around them, despite the growing awareness of the importance of inclusion. While ethnicity as a whole is still being studied with different people groups, little has been done to understand how generational stories and the past continue to impact the mental health of youth in America. In addition, South Asians in America are still impacted by the current structural changes in the government that have been inspired by Indian history1. For example, “Hindi imperialism,” or the recent push to make the national language Hindi, has caused unrest in South India because of the desire to maintain diversity in India2. Although youth in America are more detached from events like this, the knowledge weighs on their conscience, especially since there is little they could do about what they hear. These inter-ethnic tensions have existed since British colonization because the British could more easily control their colonies if they were separated and antagonistic3. Tensions rose naturally from this lack of communication and were never truly resolved since India was rapidly decolonized, and this continues to impact youth today4.
Tying South Asian history to South Asian American mental health, the “burden of memory,” is the weight of information that they carry about their family and culture and the need to pass it on5. The “burden of memory” is not considered when talking about mental health because in psychology, people typically only look for things that actively affect people’s lives. However, sociologists try to look beyond that, looking into other hidden factors that impact people groups. In my project, I hope to combine these philosophies to find new avenues to increase the effectiveness of mental health care and improve legislation to be more accommodating of South Asian American experiences.
I hope to similarly uncover nuances in the South Asian American experience that can be emphasized to make mental health services more effective. To accomplish this, I will be conducting at least 15 interviews with youth that have primarily lived in the Bay Area, and these interviews will focus on a specific piece of South Asian history. Additionally, I will be practicing the sociology technique “haunting,” which is reading contextual literature and primary sources to better understand how perspectives of issues have shifted with time.
My internal advisor is Ms. Srivastava, and my external advisor is Dr. Trung Nguyen, an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at San Jose State University. He has worked on many similar projects, like the cultural connotations of Alzheimer’s Disease and the potential repercussions it has on treatment administration. Under his guidance, I aspire to gain a better understanding of the intersection between sociology and psychology.
So far, I have begun my literature review and have been learning about how in general, South Asian history and racism have impacted North American immigrants. I aimed to pinpoint historic events that repeatedly arise in discussions about South Asian history in order to further analyze its importance in the lives of youth in the Bay Area. With this, I will begin drafting my interview questions in the following weeks. Alongside these interviews, I am now looking into potential primary sources to use for the “haunting” aspect of my project.
Overall, I would like to raise awareness about the nuances of mental health issues in ethnicity in the Bay Area, an area that has a predominantly Asian demographic.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, and I’m excited to keep you updated on my work in the upcoming weeks!
- Devgan, Shruti. “A Haunted Generation Remembers.” Contexts, Vol. 17, No. 4, SAGE Publications, Nov. 2018, Pp. 36–41. Https://Doi.Org/10.1177/1536504218812867.
- Ghosh, Arup. “Fear Of ‘Hindi Imperialism’ Triggers Mega Language War.” Firstpost, 29 Apr. 2022, Www.Firstpost.Com/Opinion/Hindi-National-Language-Debate-South-India-North-East-10616111.Html.
- Cheung, Alicia. “Colonialism: Its Impact On The Asian American Experience.” Cold Tea Collective, 22 Apr. 2022, Coldteacollective.Com/Colonialism-Asian-American-Experience.
- Team, ClearIAS. “North India-South India Divide – Is There A Growing Regional Divide In India?” ClearIAS, 24 July 2018, Www.Clearias.Com/North-India-South-India-Divide.
- Nalini Iyer (2016) Multiple Migrations: Partition And South Asian Canadian Writing, South Asian Review, 37:1, 51-69, DOI: 10.1080/02759527.2016.11933045