Compiled by Ulash Thakore-Dunlap with content provided by Kavita Pallod Sekhsaria, Jessica Joseph, and Sudha Nagarajan
The news and images coming in from India around the COVID crisis are alarming, saddening, and heartbreaking. While the news has caught the attention of many, for Indians in the diaspora, it has created a frustrating type of helplessness, as we navigate how to help family and friends living thousands of miles away while managing our own pandemic needs. To add to all of this, things seem to be "looking up" in some ways for certain communities in the US, as many are able to access vaccines and feel safer meeting with friends and family, the disease is still marking its presence in far too many homes.
Compiled here are support resources for MFTs working with South Asian clients who are either from India, have family in India, or part of the South Asian diaspora:
- Connect them with resources where you can, and, if you are able, donate to mutual aid funds and organizations that you and your community trust.
- Resist misinformation firmly and non-judgmentally. This is particularly important around vaccine hesitation. Use the CDC to ground your responses in what we know about the coronavirus.
- You may go back and forth between having guidance and suggestions, and feeling overwhelmed by the lack of answers. For the first, let your loved ones guide you in what they need, whether it is a distraction or a chance to share their distress. For the second, remember that you don’t have to have all the answers, and that you may need support yourself
- While fixing isn’t always an option, the power of listening and affirming is immense. Avoid minimizing or refuting in validating your loved one’s experience.
As you’re working on finding ways to support clients and loved ones, remember that it’s important to support yourself, because you can’t pour from an empty cup:
- Be honest and fair with yourself about what you can do. Beating yourself up, or putting yourself in position to develop resentment because you pushed yourself too hard fiscally or otherwise isn’t the solution. The balance between doing what you can, and accepting the limits of what you can do is really hard, but you owe it to yourself to try to find it.
Honor Feeling Out of Control
- Acknowledge what you can and cannot control. Go back to remembering your capacity, and address what you can control. Practice acceptance of what you can’t.
Control Your Intake
- While the situation is upsetting, watching the news for several hours of the day isn’t going to add to what you can offer or control. Know your bounds so that you can be fair to yourself.
Recognize Feelings of Guilt
- Many of us may be experiencing a form of guilt around the safety we’re feeling ourselves, and helplessness about what we can do. Try to be kind to yourself through this, as your guilt won’t erase any one else’s suffering and may make it harder for you to take care of yourself.
Adapt Coping Strategies
- Your regular supports for stress may be the ones that are unavailable. Recognize this, and that you can still develop other supports to take care of yourself - even if they are unfamiliar and even if they are not ideal. This might mean reaching out to new friends; tending to your basic needs like feeding yourself, drinking water, and taking rest; or considering therapy or online support spaces.
This is a difficult time, but as we support each other and take care of ourselves, we’ll emerge stronger. Please see Resources Guide for India and COVID-19 Crisis for a list of resources, and infographics translated into Punjabi and Hindi.
Ulash Thakore-Dunlap (she/her), is a LMFT and is full-time faculty and Diversity of Equity and Inclusion at the Wright Institute, MA Counseling Psychology program and maintains a private practice in California supporting Asian clients.