Tag Archives: Mental Health Is For All

On MLK Day 2023: With Gratitude to Dr. King, from a Desi Doctor

In February 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived in India for a five week trip to learn firsthand the South Asian history and strategies that informed the US battle for Civil Rights. Nine years after Gandhi‘s death, Dr. King wrote that he was deeply struck by direct observation of the Indian caste system and the parallels in American conceptions of race. Over 60 years later, caste-based discrimination continues in India, and, exponentially, in Muslim communities In India.

If you get a chance, read Dr. King’s words about his impressions of India, just profoundly beautiful.

Related: Caste book summary by Isabel Wilkerson

South Asian health professionals in North America need to express gratitude for the activism that has reduced racist structures but also to acknowledge the privilege afforded to us by education and profession. Indian, Pakistani and other South Asian physicians and mental health must lead that charge. Asian physicians make up the second-largest majority of all health professions within the United States. South Asian doctors fall around the 15% range. Of these, for example, greater than 60,000 physicians and approximately 10 to 12 percent of entering medical students are estimated to be of Indian heritage in this country.

Like many of our first and second-generation colleagues, our parents were primarily part of a migration from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It began around 1965 and increased through the early nineties, thanks to relaxed immigration legislation and increased employment opportunities, many brought about by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and The Fair Housing Act of 1968. The large number of South Asian immigrants who arrived during those years did so as either recent university graduates, or with the scholarship or family funds to obtain an education here on U.S. soil. As a result, South Asian immigrants have been prominent in fields that require extensive and often expensive training, such as medicine and technology.

We the first and second generation children of immigrants can use our education and position to advocate for change. The first thing to do is speak out against racism within our own communities. Although this statement often angers my South Asian community, it would be dishonest to state that we did not witness growing up with elderly community members, outwardly spewing racist propaganda; particularly condemning engaging in romantic relationships or close friendships with Black women or men. I work with a large number of Desi clients, and many feel they must keep their personal lives secret from family, a practice which is painful and ego-dystonic.

Related, see Dr. Siddique in The Meaning of Difference, McGraw Hill.

As healers, South Asian medical and mental health professionals, must be part of solutions to tackle health inequities for our Black patients. Health disparities in medicine are prevalent in all fields of medical practice. Coronavirus is still claiming the lives of Black Americans at a rate almost 2.5 times greater than Whites or Asians. Black men continue to have a substantially lower life expectancy. As a health community, we must set the goal to help narrow the disproportionate gap in Black Americans’ deaths from coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. At the least, we should take our skills and funds to contribute to organizations that will help abolish the health inequities that we see daily in our line of work.

South Asians have endured discrimination. Our names are mispronounced, our office lunch mocked, we are stereotyped as doctors or convenience store clerks on many popular shows. We continue to endure micro aggressions from patients, administrators, and supervisors based on who we are. Of the utmost importance now is that we take some of the burden for fighting for persons of color away from our Black colleagues and patients, so they can take a timeout or at least rest.

Additional reading:
Microaggressions are a Publc Health Crisis.
Why Representation Matters: Media and Mental Health

Nine psychologically-minded animated shows for adults

At Embolden, everything is therapy. I recently asked some clients to speak about the childhood books and shows that were (are) most memorable and striking for them. Graphic novels and animation can reflect and be part of mental health awareness, personal growth, and psychology.  Along those lines, there are some animated series that are particularly psychologically-minded.

The concept of psychological-mindedness means finding the human condition, in all its variety, in oneself and others. It is the capacity to examine yourself with introspection, openness, curiosity, empathy, humor, and a full range of emotions (affect) that subsequently fosters attachment, connection, and growth when employed by a person to understand others. It’s a personality trait that can certainly be developed and practiced.

Certain (animated) shows particularly speak to psychological-mindedness. They may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in psychology and masterful animation, these shows are on point. Please note that these ‘cartoons’ are not for children.

* BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
This is one of the deepest, darkest, and most empathic of shows addressing mental health. It unflinchingly examines depression, substance abuse, mental illness, and feelings of existential angst, along the lines of ‘death of a salesman’ (Arthur Miller). Laugh and cry worthy.

* Cowboy Bebop (Netflix)
The story of Spike, the protagonist, is fundamentally tragic and bittersweet. It examines generational trauma with compassion, humor, and a fantastic jazz score. With clean and tight writing, film noir meets psychology.

*Archer (Hulu)
The sometimes entitled and spoiled protagonist is made likable by his incremental desire to become a better person, with tragicomic setbacks. From his Freudian relationship with the incredible Jessica Walter who played his mother (Superego), to a supporting cast that ranges from the disinhibited Pam (Id) to the vulnerable but pragmatic Lana (Ego), Sigmund would have a field day.

*Invincible (Amazon Prime)
Highlighting the development of the teen son of a superhero who struggles to find his own identity, while coming out from under his father’s shadow and learning about his disturbing family history and long-standing secrets. Coming of age, on steroids.

* Undone (Amazon Prime)
The idea that a gift can also be a curse or hindrance is explored by the main character, Alma, following a tragic accident. The fluidity of time, history, and place is the primary character. Origin stories ARE psychology, and as a bonus, the visuals are stunning.

*Love, Death & Robots (Netflix)
Each short film in the series is from a different writer and director, showcasing their individual creativity, but the theme is sci-fi technology and how it affects humanity. Ranging from the romantic to the hysterically funny and the terrifying, the shorts show how technology is inextricably interwoven into our psyches and mental health.

*King of the Hill (Hulu)
An empathic look at characters with an often limited worldview that is being challenged by ever impinging realities. Their bewilderment and occasional defiant vulnerability in a rapidly changing world they cannot ignore reflects the finesse of the writers who do not allow them to become stereotypes or buffoons. Living in a bubble is not possible; and the show demonstrates this, with kindness and humor.

* Samurai Jack (HBO Max)
“Gotta get back, back to the past, Samurai Jack.” Rapped by will.i.am, the music stays in your head like a personal memory. From creator Genndy Tartakovsky, Samurai Jack combines the poignant yearning to repair past losses with fighting present day and past demons. Literally.  Combining lots of action and remixes from classic samurai films, it remains remarkably emotional. Jack is noble even when he doesn’t want to be. His incredible prowess as a warrior when combined with his humanity and integrity makes him iconic.

*Primal (Adult Swim)
Genndy Tartakovsky at his best. This virtually ‘nonverbal’ show (no spoken words at all in most episodes) presents a bond formed over shared tragedy and the necessity of working together to survive in a perilous world. The development of empathy and cooperation in terrifying circumstances is breathtaking in the series. The nonverbal communication is so nuanced that you literally don’t miss speech. The show may actually reflect the evolution of psychological mindedness.

Beginnings

Nothing like opening and expanding a business shortly before a global pandemic, a universal mental health crisis (Summer of 2020 was the highest level of clinical depression ever recorded in the United States since they kept records), and the loneliness of limited travel and social life for the sake of work safety…

In the past three years, Embolden Psychology has provided low fee services to the hospitality industry, pro bono services to frontline healthcare providers, and accessible mental health services for all, from neuropsychology and psychotherapy to consulting and community mental health. We kept open our offices in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. We have maintained our community mental health clinic for over 18 consecutive years with the exception of having to close for three months during the worst of the pandemic. We continue to offer comprehensive support services to our mental health partners in education, advocacy, DEI, family and parent support, and of course, our clients and patients.

From teaching mindfulness meditation to bartenders, restaurant owners/managers and middle schoolers; podcasts, writing, and mental health seminars; to putting together a team of volunteers to provide support for less advantaged families for school virtual learning and community outreach/depression screening, we have been blessed with incredible experiences.

I cannot tell you how many people I have had the opportunity to speak with, learn from, and listen to over the past three years.

Thank you to my team/army.
Mental Health Is For All.
Affordable/Accessible/Innovative

Three years ago this summer, Embolden Psychology went from a dream to fruition. We emerged at the beginning of a mental health pandemic, of an enormity never seen before in my profession. In the summer of 2020, the US Census Bureau wrote that the levels of clinical depression in the United States had never been recorded as any higher since they began record keeping. Anxiety disorders, substance abuse, trauma, and domestic discord were close partners.

After being the clinical director for almost 18 years for a DC and MD-based mental health practice headed by my mentor, Dr. Neil Schiff,  I worked as a contractor all over Washington DC before deciding to pursue opportunities that were not available under any one roof. Neil helped me develop a model that emphasized inclusion, flexibility, and diversity as essential in providing psychological services.

Throughout the pandemic, which is far from over, Embolden provided low fee and Pro Bono support for front line medical and emergency providers, the service industry which was devastated, and individuals nationally experiencing severe financial hardship and family problems.

Our motto is Mental Health Is For All

This requires a tricky combination, constantly being fine tuned:

Community mental health, volunteer services, crisis management, neuropsychological assessment, psycho educational work (teaching and consultation), writing about mental health in a way that’s accessible to as many people as possible, cultural competency and training, individual and family-based therapy services, and some very enjoyable creative opportunities that I’ve had a chance to collaborate on, including film, graphic novels, podcasts, and meditation classes. Lots more to come. Stay tuned. ❤️

 

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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