AAPI Community vs. Mental Health by Lin Lin

AAPI Community vs. Mental Health

A Relationship of an Ongoing Battle by Lin Lin

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month while also Mental Health Awareness Month. . Even if they are in the same month, these two often clash with each other. For many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, they often don’t seek help for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It is as simple as that. The AAPI community is on one side of the battleground while mental health is on the other side. Why?

As a first-generation Chinese American, it was awkward and cumbersome to talk about my emotions. I grew up with the mindset of putting on a brave face because I assumed that crying would not save me from the predicament. With the model minority myth (a racist stereotype that portrays Asian Americans assimilating into mainstream white culture and overcoming the challenges of racism) under our belt, we often strive to be perfect, and having mental health issues is like a slap in the face, to you and your family. Your family immigrated to the US for a better life, so what are you crying about? Your family worked hard and are successful, what are you sad about? It is a form of weakness and vulnerability in the community and we often are branded as “crazy” or seeking attention if we do talk about it.

The stigma that surrounds the conversation about mental health is worse than the stigma around the touchy consultation about sex. It results in unhealthy coping mechanisms like suppressing our sadness and grief. Then AAPIs obtain a distinctive technique. The tendency to deny and therefore neglect the symptoms. Recent data collected from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) even found that Asian Americans have a 17.3% percent overall lifetime rate of any psychiatric disorder, yet Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than white folks. While the national population of all racial identities for suicide is placed at 11, for Asian Americans it is the 8th leading cause of death.

It has been found that the majority of adolescent AAPIs tend to seek out support from personal channels like intimate friends, family members, and their religious community rather than seeking professional help for their mental health concerns. While the biggest obstacle in seeking professional help is the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues, in addition to a lack of awareness of the resources and services available to them.

There is an issue where AAPIs often have difficulty accessing mental health services because of the language barrier. Just because they don’t speak English does not make them any less part of a valuable community that deserves help. As our country gradually changes and diversifies in our population, we must keep up with the demand of the people that live in this country and provide the same help that is often there for our white counterparts.

I can apply my city as an archetype. For a supposedly urban and liberal city like Philadelphia, one that prides itself on its rich history and diverse population, the means of success that the local government offers to its people of color are embarrassingly inadequate and incompetent. We would like to see solutions where we can have bilingual services and more participation from the government. For students of color, we also need more cooperation from school administrators and our districts.

We also don’t talk about the leading causes of tension that impacts the community. A study conducted by The University of Maryland School of Public Health research team in 2007, looked into the mental health of Asian-American young adults from eight different communities; Cambodian, Asian Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese. The majority of the participants share similar origins of pressure that affects their overall mental health.

Standards like:

❏ Pressure from family to succeed in academics and extracurriculars

❏ Mental health concerns are considered restricted and taboo in many cultures

❏ The obligation to measure up to the caricature of the "model minority" myth

❏ Family responsibilities and commitments based on traditional and cultural values

❏ Prejudice and discrimination thanks to racial or cultural background

❏ Difficulty in balancing and developing a sense of self

But fortunately, there are options open for the community and for them to find a professional that can fit their needs. Organizations like the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), where they provide phenomenal resources. We can all agree that the talk about mental health should be normalized in this day and age, and if we really believe in that, we need to fight for more inclusive approaches and access to mental health. We should be angry because mainstream communications often do not want Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in that conversation.

As teenagers, we can start this conversation in little steps. In honor of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, you should definitely do some of the following!

- Grab a mask and order some take out from a local Asian American restaurant.

- Call up your Asian friends and ask how they’re doing.

- Take care of yourself especially! Do some skincare!

- Support AAPI creators

These are phenomenal resources to look more into the mental health crisis in the AAPI community.





https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2019/Why-Asian-Americans-and-Pacific-Islanders-Don-t-go-to-Ther apy


https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/best-practice-highlights/working-with-asian -american-patients





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