By: Megan Eckles

The Facts:

  • Over 24 million Americans, or 7.3% of the U.S. population, are considered Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI; NAMI, 2022)
  • APPI encompasses 50 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages, with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries.

Barriers to Mental Health: 

  • Asian Americans do not access mental health treatment as much as other racial/ethnic groups do, perhaps due to strong stigma related to mental illness. Emotional problems are viewed as shameful and distressing which may limit help-seeking behaviors. Asian Americans with mental health problems tend to rely on family to handle problems. (Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education, 2022).
  • Some AAPIs do not seek help due to fear of immigration laws and possible deportation (NAMI, 2022). 
  • The is the lack of competent care for those in the community. 
  • Language barriers, roughly 32.6% AAPIs are not fluent in English, and those over 65 make up 60% of that (NAMI, 2022).

Seeking Culturally Competent Care:

Culturally competent care means to understand a person’s values, experiences and personal beliefs, while making strides to provide services that support their goals and are in alignment with their cultural values. 

Ways to provide/find culturally competent care:

  • The Asian Mental Health Collective connects AAPI clients with AAPI therapists
  • Asian American Psychological Association offers a Graduate Leadership Institute (GLI), which offers students a deeper understanding about the AAPI community, and self in relation to the community
  • According to NAMI (2022), traditional/non-western medicine or indigenous healing practices, which often emphasize the integration of mind and body in maintaining health and promoting healing, remain popular forms of mental health intervention in some AAPI communities. These practices include, but are not limited to:
    • Traditional Chinese medicine
    • Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India)
    • Japanese herbal medicine
    • Tibetan medicine
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
    • Folk nutritional therapy
    • Energy healing exercises (such as tai chi and qi gong)
    • Guided meditation
    • Spiritual healing

How to Help:

Asian LifeNet Hotline provides help with suicide for AAPI. They provide services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Fujianese. 1-877-990-8585

Resources:

https://aaspe.net/index.html

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Asian-American-and-Pacific-Islander

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