The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And these two things intersect, or shall we say, collide, for those who are Asian Americans and struggle with mental illness.
Let’s do the math. The Asian American population is estimated at 21.4 million (as of 2016, cf. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features: Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2018) About 1 in 5 Americans struggle with mental health each year.
That comes to 4.28 million Asian Americans struggling by mental illness every year!
Millions of Asian Americans are struggling with mental health. And it’s generally not talked about in their respective Asian cultures nor ackowledged in mainstream American culture. That’s why there’s this month of May for raising awareness. (Aside: July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month; in pop culture, Kanye West Opened Up About His Mental Health along with other celebrities in the month-long #MyYoungerSelf campaign—a different celebrity every day.)
While mental illness can be treated, there are lower rates of treatment in the AAPI community due to cultural stigma and language barriers. Asian-Americans are reportedly three times less likely to seek mental health services than their white counterparts.
Through outreach and education efforts, many organizations have worked for years to lower the stigma about mental health for all peoples everywhere, with some specifically for Asian American communities. Awareness month once a year, campaigns, conferences, community events, seminars, articles, mental health professionals, awareness are all good resources. I think that blogs & podcasts are especially valuable because of their personal voices (in contrast to a corporate voice), available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in the privacy of one’s home. And, because of the on-going nature of blogs and podcasts, the potential for relevant and easier-to-understand information can be powerfully helpful.
Knowing that so many Asian Americans struggle with mental health and how challenging it is to find relevant resources, I’ve gathered some here to make it more accessible to normal everyday people.
Erasing Shame—Eunice Lee and DJ Chuang co-host this podcast where there’s honest talk for healthy living—emotionally, relationally, mentally, and personally. (Launched in February 2018; livestreamed on Facebook every Thursday)
The Bull and the Badger Podcast— April and Vanessa (producer of The Laundromat documentary) talks about mental health issues, especially ones specific to the Asian American community. (over 400 episodes!)
- Where Are The Asian-American Mental Health Stories? (The Establishment)
- “Model Minority” Pressures Take Mental Health Toll (BU Today)
- Breaking down a wall of silence on mental health among Vietnamese Americans (OC Register)
- Biggest roadblocks to Asian mental health may come from within (KPCC)
- Congresswoman Judy Chu Introduces Bill For Asian Americans Battling Mental Illness (in May 2017)
- An AAPI Perspective: Cultural Roots of Mental Health (Harvard Crimson)
- Top five mental illness myths in Chinese American communities (Sampan)
- Asian American Teenage Girls Have Highest Rates Of Depression; NAMI Releases Report (2011)
- Why Are Asian American Kids Killing Themselves? (Plan A magazine)
- Asian-Americans Shun Mental Health Care
- Disclosing Mental Illness among Korean Americans is Losing Face
- For Asian American women, depression and suicide go largely unseen (KALW)
- Mental Illness May Go Untreated in Asian Americans (Newsweek)
- The Silence About Mental Health in South Asian Culture Is Dangerous (The New Republic)
- On Some College Campuses, A Focus On Asian American Mental Health
(New America Media)
- Asian-Americans Tackle Mental Health Stigma (WebMD)
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA)
- Asian American Psychological Association—”Advance the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities…”
- Asian American Christian Counseling Service (Alhambra, Torrance, Cerritos, Culver City — California)
- Asan American Health Initiative
- Together Empowering Asian Minds (TEAM)— engaging, educating and empowering our community by talking about the stigma of mental health, with culturally-relevant resources
- Asian Community Mental Health Services (San Francisco Bay area)
Brands celebrating APA Heritage Month
Panda Express celebrates with a Trailblazers mini-documentary