Cultural Stigmas and Barriers Surrounding Mental Health in Asian American Communities

Minority-Mental-Health-Month-Asian-Americans_Web_BlogThis month, we continue to celebrate, acknowledge, and honor our BIPOC communities as we recognize July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month. This national recognition to bring awareness to barriers affecting BIPOC communities was established in 2008 by the US House of Representatives.  

Because of historical and culture oppression, BIPOC communities continue to face unique concerns, trauma, barriers, and other challenges when seeking mental health support. Over the course of the past 18 months, hate crimes due to xenophobic racism against the Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, which accounts for 6.1% of the American population, has reached a national average of nearly 100 per day. 

While hate crimes are on the rise across the AAPI community, suicide has become the second-leading cause of death across members of this community ages 15-34 year of age.  

Factors That Affect Mental Health 

According to Mental Health America, ”Asian Americans are least likely to have a history of diagnosis even though 57% of those who completed a mental health screen scored moderately to severely depressed. Asian Americans are also three times less likely to seek mental health services.” 

Mental health concerns across the AAPI community can be linked back to multiple struggles, including trauma, stigma, religious believes, access to care, and the “Model Minority” myth. 

The Myth 

The “Model Minority” myth is a large part of the complex system of racism and microaggressions the AAPI community face based on their raceAKUA Mind Body describes the “Model Minority” stereotype as “an inaccurate view that often portrays Asian Americans as well-off individuals who successfully integrated into the mainstream American culture. Many non-Asian Americans assume that Asian Americans have overcome challenges associated with racial inequalities because of their success in academics and professional milestones. Many people believe that Asian Americans do not experience racism, which is false.” 

Cultural Stigmas and Barriers 

Of the 6.1% of Americans that identify as part of the AAPI community, over 15% report having a mental illness or wellbeing condition in the past year.  

Members of the AAPI community face many internal and external pressures to be academically and professional successful or gifted. These pressures may include, and are not limited to, strict family obligations based in traditional cultural values while trying to balance two competing cultures - Asian and American, language barriers between family members or generations, discrimination due to racial or cultural backgrounds, and a lack of AAPI mental health professionals. 

Learn more, get involved, be informed 


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