The Covid-19 pandemic is global so how does it affect the global South Asian diaspora who are dealing with both fears of the virus and the challenges of lockdown and distancing? The stereotypes of South Asians is that we love to be around family and friends and that our default mode is one of being around each other. I speak to Ulash Dunlap Thakore from the San Francisco Mental Health Board who works closely with South Asian communities on why the community is experiencing a sense of ‘ grief’ whether or not they have had a loss of lives in the family.

We Crave Physical Human Connections

Ulash, a Mental Health Therapist and Professor, explains that for the  Indian diaspora around the world, who are far away from families, many are grieving. Grieving even if they have not experienced the loss of a loved one. Like many diasporas, they are going through the anxieties of ‘ what if’. What if I cannot see my loved ones again, what if something happens to my mother or father before I am able to meet them?

“We are connected online on the phone but for a lot of community members connecting on the phone is not the same. We are used to seeing each other in person. If you think of us being humans, we crave human connection. The loss and grief comes from the fact that I can’t touch other people, that we can’t see other.” explains Ulash further.

The other issue faced by many South Asians is that seeking mental health is still associated with stigma. And this too at a time when people need it the most. 

For Large Joint Families It’s Intense In A Different Way

“There are also families who live together and it is very intense and they need someone to talk to who is not family. Or when you are living on your own and you need support.” Ulash explains the two different sides of lockdown pressures most commonly faced by the South Asian diaspora.

Check In With Your ‘Strong’ Friends And Families Too

While families the world over were bracing for a short and difficult period of lockdown, amidst fears of Covid-19, they were not all prepared for isolation that would go into weeks and weeks. This is where even the routines and resilience are tested in what has become a self-quarantine marathon. 

“Stay in the community even if it means you are too tired to connect or have a long conversation. Give yourself permission not to talk if you don’t feel like it. But check in with a text message. And be sure to check in even on those who you think are strong or will be okay. They might need you, just as much as you need them.”