Minority Mental Health Matters

Rohan Sharma Shares His Story for Minority Mental Health Month

“My name is Rohan Sharma, and though my journey with mental illness has been difficult at times, I am actually very grateful because it has helped me to grow in many ways.

My story begins in the Fall of 2011, where I was a medical student at Drexel University. As a result of my Bipolar Disorder being misdiagnosed, I was prescribed the wrong medication which induced a psychotic episode. I ended up committing a crime, for which I was arrested. Shortly after I was bailed out of jail, my medical school chose to expel me and my life was thrown into chaos. Not only had I lost my medical career, but I was also facing up to 10 years in prison. I subsequently took a plea bargain for 23 months in county jail, and although this was a very tough period in my life, it was also the start of my recovery.

During my nearly two years of incarceration, not only was I able to complete 3 courses, but I also read over 60 books (including many from the self-help genre, which really helped me to learn positive ways to handle my illness). They taught me coping strategies like meditation and journaling. But perhaps most therapeutic of all, I learned to express myself through things like poetry and rap music, and now even have a Youtube Channel showcasing some of my rap freestyles (“Rx Mundi”).

Today, I’m also a speaker for NAMI’s “Ending the Silence” program, where I go to schools and share my story to inspire students and show them that recovery is possible, even in the darkest of settings. I also express to them how important it is to get help when you need it. Lastly, I share my music with the kids to let them know that you don’t have to let your mental illness get in the way of doing what you’re passionate about.

Being a minority with Bipolar Disorder can be challenging. There is a lot of ignorance surrounding mental illness in the Indian community; however, this makes it even more important for us to speak up about mental health issues so that we can fight the stigma.”

Rohan, we are so proud of you and all you’ve accomplished in your journey to recovery. The impact you have on students as a speaker for “Ending the Silence” is memorable and immeasurable. There is no one else like you, and we are honored that you have chosen NAMI to be the conduit through which you change the world. Never give up on your dreams. Recovery is possible.