SAALT (South Asians Leadings Together) has released a report entitled Unequal Consequences: The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 Across South Asian Americans. By interviewing NCSO (National Coalition of South Asian Organizations) leaders, gathering community testimonials, and analyzing surveys, SAALT has been able to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Asians in areas such as New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and the Bay Areas and Central Valley in California.
According to the report, South Asians have been impacted by the pandemic regarding their experiences with domestic violence, immigration, unsafe working environments, and underlying health conditions. The report also highlights that South Asians are four times more likely than the general population of having heart disease or diabetes, which means that they are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 and are even at a greater risk of dying from contracting the virus.
The pandemic has affected communities and individuals of all cultures by increasing stress and anxiety levels in terms of health concerns and issues such as employment and housing that have been impacted by the pandemic. Mental health counseling has been critical during this time by assisting individuals who have been affected by COVID-19 whether they have lost love ones, fallen ill, or become unemployed etc.
In the spring of 2017, The Pro Bono Counseling Project adopted CHAI (Counselors Helping South Asians and Indians) as a special program and has since has worked to incorporate CHAI supporters and clinicians who share the cultural backgrounds of South Asian clients into our clinical work. As of 2019, the number of South Asian individuals who contacted PBCP increased by 67%. The number of hours of counseling provided to the South Asian community by our volunteer clinicians increased by 167%.
Through CHAI, PBCP has been able to increase South Asian community engagement within Maryland, which has allowed PBCP and its volunteer clinicians to serve and provide resources to the South Asian community in Maryland, such as offering teletherapy and engaging in cultural competent counseling. As the pandemic increases the need for mental health counseling, PBCP continues to partner with volunteer clinicians to provide a critical need to the South Asian community in Maryland.