Mental Health in an unequal world- Caste system of India

A historic existence of social hierarchy in India, namely the caste system, has challenged the basic human rights of over 200 million individuals. These individuals being the Dalits. The caste system incorporates the following: Brahmins, Ksyatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras.

The avarna or those left outside the caste system such as the Dalits have experienced years of abuse, neglect and violence. For generations they were referred to as the ‘untouchables’ and deprived of basic human rights and excluded from the upper-caste and their lives. They were not allowed to live in the same place, go to the same temple or even drink from the same well as the upper-caste individuals.

While India may have progressed since then and no longer refer to the Dalits as ‘untouchables’, there is still a severe lack in the understanding of the generational trauma that Dalits have experienced and continue experiencing. Moreover, there is a lack of access to healthcare including therapy due to the cost, lack of understanding and sensitivity towards the issues faced by Dalits in the community and merely a lack of Dalit representation in the mental health space. Moreover, due to the systematic discrimation, Dalits are yet majorly employed in low-paying jobs, which can increase the distance between them and mental health care.

Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that Dalits, just like any other marginalised community, are more susceptible to developing mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. However, while more and more people are becoming aware and informed about other marginalised communities, Dalits are yet to be given the same support.

While there may not be much that we can do, what we can still do is make ourselves more aware and educated about the challenges faced by Dalits and practice compassion and kindness towards them. Moreover, caste-informed training can be given to mental health professionals to better understand and be equipped to help those coming into therapy.

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Nataliya Bukalsariya s a psychologist at You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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