Gayathri Ramprasad, MBA, CPS
Mental Health Advocate, Author & Speaker
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Namaste! My name is Gayathri Ramprasad. I am the Founder & President of ASHA International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and promoting mental health and wellness through the power of personal stories. I am also the author of Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within.
I was born and raised in Bangalore, India, amidst ancient traditions, and a large, loving extended family. My happy childhood, however, gave way to a traumatic adolescence. By the time I was 18, I was debilitated by generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. At 23, as a young mother in America, I struggled to free myself from the death-hold of depression.
On April 30, 1989, confined in the seclusion room in a psychiatric ward in America, stripped of freedom, dignity, hope and humanity, I promised to emerge a messenger of hope and healing. For every indignity that I had suffered in shame and silence, I promised to fight to restore my dignity and the dignity of others like me around the world. And for every moment that my family and I had lived in despair, I promised to bring hope to the lives of others like us.
ASHA International is the culmination of that promise! A promise that took 17 years to realize.
ASHA literally means HOPE in Sanskrit, one of the world’s most ancient languages that originated in my home country India, and in Hindi, India’s national language. In English, ASHA is an acronym for A Source of Hope for all touched by mental health conditions. At ASHA International, we give people HOPE in all that we do.
When I started ASHA International in 2006, I had a simple wish – to transform the lessons I had learned in pain to give hope to one person struggling with a mental health condition. I am deeply grateful that my colleagues and I have had the opportunity to reach out and touch with lives of nearly 50,000 people nationally and internationally with a resounding message of hope and wellbeing.
To learn more about ASHA International and get involved, please visit www.myasha.org
To read my memoir, Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within, please visit www.gayathriramprasad.com
2. How has mental illness affected your life?
Mental illness affected the very core of my being, my relationships, my ability to live, to love, to learn, to contribute and thrive.
3. Why did you want to be a part of the This Is My Brave Women's Mental Health Summit?
I am deeply inspired by the mission of This is My Brave to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues by sharing personal stories, and am honored to be a part of their Women’s Mental Health Summit.
Personal stories have the power to save lives and create social change. Stories connect and comfort us in our shared struggles, help us know that we are not alone, and offer us HOPE to cope, survive and thrive.
As I share in my TEDx Talk, Be the Hope https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=501C6GkD56M , a stranger’s story saved my life, and I am determined to pay her gift of hope forward.
4. What inspires you to stay mentally healthy?
My love for my family and my global community inspires me to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit.
5. What do you hope the attendees of the event walk away with?
I wish that the attendees will walk away knowing that regardless of our struggles, each of has the power within the recover and thrive.