How Ashmita Sharma, National Finalist for Ms Australia, became a champion for mental health awareness

By Sarah Pongracic
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It all began when she was 11 years old and her mother took her life

When she was a child of 11, Ashmita Sharma’s mother took her own life. The suicide led to ongoing struggles with her own mental health, to a point where Ashmita was required to undergo psychiatric care. But it was this personal journey that spurred Ashmita to become a champion advocate for mental health. Ashmita, now a National finalist for the “Ms Australia International 2020” crown, says she wants to be an international advocate for mental health.

Ashmita actively supports the Beyond Blue organization and her position as a finalist has amplified her actions. The Ms Australia International title is given to those who demonstrate their contributions in society through their individual journeys. This is what makes the pageant so different from other pageants which are usually based purely on how contestants look. This platform recognises accomplishments and aims to serve the community with a role model of influence to others towards a positive change.

Ashmita’s choice of platform Beyond Blue is a nonprofit organization which exists solely to help anyone in need of support for their mental health challenges. They provide resources to help understand symptoms, stages and methods of assisting to minimize the impact on their health. They support their own resources with a message delivered nationally at every stage which is “suicide is never the answer and it is ok not to be ok”.

“My experience was causing others discomfort and was foreign to them. That is why I believe it is imperative to reduce the stigmas and prejudices that surround less than perfect mental health. The spiral of those who are struggling need support and this stigma prevents that, which is detrimental in the long term,” says Ashmita.

Ashmita now encourages people to speak up and support those who may be struggling. “One of the biggest obstacles a person faces when seeking support is fear. Fear of being belittled, not believed, labeled or bullied. By offering such a huge support network as well as education on various disorders and so forth, Beyond Blue is slowly eradicating these fears by helping to change people’s attitudes and creating a future culture where Indo-Westernized communities empower each other by being supportive,” she says.

Ashmita’s passion and experience is reflected in three rather unique mental health awareness events she hosted over the year, through which she raised $1,670. She raised another $6,000 in a combined venture with her brother, Amit who committed to fight in the Corporate Fighter series hosted at Star City pledging funds raised to Beyond Blue.

Her three events were: Sit-ups For Sadness, Relationships and Separations; Ditch Depression Through Dating (Speed Dating); and a Corporate Comedy Cocktail Gala Evening.

The lead-up to the finals through these ventures stemmed into local engagement within schools, where she welcomed the support of local businesses and even individuals seeking guidance. This has established a viable network that will no doubt continue to grow.

The crowning of the winner is on Friday, 28 February in Parramatta.


Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-official-crowning-of-mrs-ms-miss-miss-teen-australia-international-2020-tickets-62112159140

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