May is both Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI for short). The more you think about it, the more the two sharing a month kind of makes sense: Asian American teen girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of any ethnic and gender group, Southeast Asian Americans experience high stress due to the threat of deportations, and Asian adolescents who face racial discrimination are more likely to experience depressive symptoms.
Culture also plays a big role. Many AAPI are first or second generation immigrants, and by coming from cultures that have strong stigmas against mental health – or don’t believe that mental illness exists at all – it can confuse Asian Americans teenagers growing up in an environment that still stigmatizes mental health, but still acknowledges it and is having a conversation about it. These teens may have been told by their family that mental illness isn’t real, and showing symptoms is a weakness and can easily be changed by working harder and having a stronger sense of self-will.
We wanted to share a few resources that may help those who identify as AAPI navigate their mental health in a space that specifically relates to them and the issues that they go through as AAPI. If you or someone you know identifies as an AAPI, you can check these out, but don’t feel like you’re limited to just these resources.
Asian American Psychological Association The AAPA was founded back in 1972 and aims to educate and provide resources for AAPI on topics specifically for the community. They have several divisions because it’s so large, including a Division of Students and those with multiple heritages. Their resource page includes a lot of links, including some for LGBT AAPI as well.
Psychology Today The website is already a great tool to help find therapists in your area and includes many features and filters to help you find someone who is best for you. One of these features includes being able to choose minority therapists. The link sends you to find an Asian therapist, and some minorities have found that talking to someone who also represents them makes them more comfortable.
Personal Essays Organizations and research can be a great place for support, but sometimes the best resources are listening and reading about those who’ve experienced what you have experienced too. It’s almost looking like into a mirror, where your reflection speaks to you about things that you couldn’t quite put into words, or say things that you haven’t been able to say aloud. You can check out a few here.
Do you identify as AAPI? What are your experiences like with mental health and how those in your community perceive it? Do you have an resources you want to share that you’ve tried?