Now, it’s the year 2022, and a lot of things have happened. The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the world’s mental health crisis, along with increasing anti-Asian hate and racism. The need for mental health care and support is especially overwhelming among Asian American and Asian communities.
Lack of accessibility, affordability, and availability makes it extra challenging for Asian Americans to get professional health care. Even worse, Asian American and Asian cultures have perpetuated stigma and shame that alienates those who are desperately in need of mental health care. Oh, and then the double whammy on top of that, with a majority of churches (at least 66%, according to one survey) rarely ever talking about mental health, keeping the topic veiled in secrecy and taboo. Not good.
The need is great and we have to do something. I can’t do it alone. And there are some good efforts happening out there that speak to Asian American Christians. But not enough. It’s not just doing more, although there’s nothing wrong with that per se. Doing something is better than doing nothing. It’s figuring out what will be most strategic and effective.
On a personal note, I’m entering a new year of my life, turned 56 in July, and I’m going to take a step of faith here and heed the wisdom of life coaches and mentors to bring a little more focus in my life. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and that can be used to an advantage, methinks. During the mandatory lockdown, I did get trained as a mental health coach. I’ve also managed my own bipolar disorder for over 20 years; that’s what they call having lived experience.
With the encouragement of a couple great friends, we’re in process of preparing to launch a new nationwide initiative under Asian American Christian Collaborative. We’re calling it Christian Asian Mental Health. As an open source kind of guy, I’m blogging this to share what’s going on even before the plans are finalized and invite you to look in on our napkins sketches and rough drafts. We’d love to have your input and partnership, too!
Here’s what we’re thinking: Christian Asian Mental Health (CAMH) seeks to advance compassion and care in faith communities for every person. CAMH will actively encourage, educate, and empower mental wellness in communities of faith through digital platforms (like the Erasing Shame podcast, social media, and webinars) and in-person programs (seminars and training). CAMH will make mental wellness more accessible by providing better navigation of affordable and accessible resources. And, CAMH will collaborate with like-minded partners and organizations to serve our communities most effectively and efficiently.
CAMH desires to serve beyond English and also in every Asian language as resources and opportunities avail. Yes, this is a very ambitious dream and it will depend on the bigness of our God and how well we can work together in Christian unity and love for all humanity.
I share more about this dream on the Erasing Shame podcast, the introduction episode on encouraging Christian Asian mental health:
Important Statistics about Asian American Mental Health
- Asian American young adults (ages 15-24) are the only racial group with suicide as their leading cause of death.
- Asian Americans are 50% less likely than other racial groups to seek mental health services. (over 1,300 Asian Americans die by suicide each year. cf. CDC)
- 54% of practicing Christians say they have at least one relational or emotional / mental health issue that impacts their relationships. (cf. Barna)
- “Individuals who are struggling with mental health are more likely to go to a clergy member before a mental health provider or physician.”
- There’s a lot at stake! If the mental health crisis remains with status quo of current efforts, we will continue to experience tragic loss of many lives. Each suicide affects around 115 lives, with 1 in 5 reporting that this experience had a devastating impact. That’s 23 more people devastated. cf. nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2018/The-Ripple-Effect-of-Suicide
One more thing
Why Christian Asian Mental Health, instead of something like Asian American Christian mental health? Good question. It’s because of this grammatical insight from Dr. Tony Evans, a pastor and Bible teacher in Texas:
It is technically incorrect, technically, to call yourself a “black Christian,” or a “white Christian,” or a “Hispanic Christian.” Then you make your color or culture an adjective. It’s the job of the adjective to modify the noun. If you put Christianity in the noun position and your color or culture in the adjective position you have to keep shaping the noun so it looks like the adjective that describes it. So if your color stays in the adjectival position you got to keep shaping Christianity to look black or to look white or to look red…washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/07/21/christians-should-put-their-faith-above-their-race-and-culture-the-rev-tony-evans-says/
We are born Asian or Asian American. We are reborn into Christ, through His new birth, into a new life. And we want to articulate how Christ changes us to be more Christ-like, renewing our minds, and making us whole, by using the name Christian Asian Mental Health.