October is Mental Health Awareness month, and though mental health is a topic that we should be aware of throughout the year, we thought that it would be fitting to speak about mental health and illnesses contextualized within the AAPI community in light of Season 3.
In Season 3, we cover Asians who’ve overcome challenges against all odds. One of the topics we cover is mental health. Several of our guests talk to us about their experiences with depression, anxiety, and stress. One guest in particular, Jon Chang, shares his extremely personal story about living with bipolar disorder. He tells us what it was like to grow up in a family who didn’t want to talk about mental health issues, how it affected interactions with coworkers, and what he wishes the media and entertainment industries would do differently to portray or represent mental illnesses.
These are some of our episodes that touch on mental health topics:
Michelle Phan leaving YouTube after 10 years of making content to take a mental health break
Suicide and intentional self-harm are among the leading causes of death for Asian-Americans, yet Asian-Americans do not report as many mental health conditions as their other racial counterparts.
It’s been long recognized that cultural values, traditions and stigmas can take a toll on a person’s mental health, no matter their race. However, it’s also been reported that Asian-Americans in particular are much more reluctant to seek professional help, in part due to limited knowledge, access, and cultural stigma around mental health. Asians are three times less likely than any other ethnic group to seek help for their mental health, though, according to Mental Health America, 13 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders suffered from a diagnosable mental illness in 2016.
There are plenty of online resources to learn more about mental health but it can all be overwhelming. The lack of cultural awareness within the Asian-American community regarding mental health has prompted some influential figures to come out and speak about their own experiences, such as actress Kristina Wong, who has spoken about mental health before. We’ve curated a list of the most helpful websites, organizations, hotlines and screening assessments to help you get started. Note that these are meant to be resources for you to reference, not replacements for seeking medical advice. If you feel that you or a loved one might need professional help, don’t hesitate to call a helpline, or seek out an organization, or start the search for a professional near you.
Informational Organizations & Websites
For resources, fact sheets, and general information:
Asian American Psychological Association - https://aapaonline.org/
The AAPA is an organization whose mission is to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian-American communities through research, practice, education and policy, according to their website
The AAPA has published journals and other research regarding Asian-American psychological topics and methods of improving mental health services for the Asian-American community
Go here for: access to a vast database of AAPA members who may be able to provide therapy referrals or other such information; mentorship opportunities for students; access to the Asian American Journal of Psychology and the AAPA Newsletter, which contain information regarding current research and policy in the field
The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA) - http://naapimha.org/aboutus/
The NAAPIMHA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization aimed at promoting awareness of mental health for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities
They fight for allocating resources and funding to mental health, healthcare reform, immigration and equal rights for all
Go here for: access to mental health fact sheets in multiple languages (Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Khmer, Mandarin, Thai and Vietnamese); access to a vast database on mental health resources and research; discovering campaigns to partake in
The National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA) - http://napafasa.org
NAPAFASA is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that addresses the alcohol, drug and tobacco use and abuse in AAPI communities
Go here for: finding resources to help you address substance abuse issues among your community or to learn more about the effects of substance abuse on AAPI communities
The American Psychiatric Association - http://www.psych.org/
Known as “the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry,” the APA is an organization of psychiatrists who work to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental illness, including substance abuse disorders – it is the largest psychiatric organization in the world.
You can look to the APA for guidelines on diagnosing disorders.
Go here for: if you are interested in attending meetings with APA members to learn more about educational content in the field of psychiatry; to learn about mental illnesses and how you can look out for them in yourself or your loved ones; for an all-in-one informational center on psychiatry and mental illnesses
American Psychological Association - http://www.apa.org/
Leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the US.
Go here for: a comprehensive Psychology Help Center that relays important psychological issues that affect mental well-being; help finding a psychiatrist in your area
For access to support groups and communities:
I AM SHAKTI - https://www.iamshakti.org/
I AM SHAKTI is a social justice movement focused on sensitizing Indian-Americans (and South Asians/marginalized communities in general) to mental health issues and providing support to those affected by mental health challenges
Go here for: finding support through their Facebook group (I-AM SHAKTI: Ascension) or if you want a platform through which you can share your story/read others
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - http://www.samhsa.gov/
Agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation
Mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities
SAMHSA provides leadership, supports programs and services and devotes resources to helping the United States act
Go here for: Helplines, help finding treatment, finding access to help programs and communities to become a part of
The National Alliance on Mental Illness - http://www.nami.org/
Nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for Americans affected by mental illness
Offers educational programs to offer support and supply information
Helps shape national public policy that affects people with mental illness and their families
Offers a helpline
Lead public awareness events and activities
Go here for: The NAMI helpline, finding support through NAMI educational programs and discussion groups, finding information related to mental health issues that could help you and your loved ones
A3PCON DACA Mental Health Project - http://www.asianpacificpolicyandplanningcouncil.org/a3pcon-daca-mental-health-project/
A3PCON (Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council) is a group of community-based organizations that fights for the rights and needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander American community in the greater Los Angeles area
They focus on low income, immigrant, refugee, and other disadvantaged marginalized communities
The Mental Health Project launched by A3PCON provides free mental health services to DACA recipients and their families
Go here for: if you are a Los Angeles resident or have friends and family in the LA area and you want to get involved in helping the Asian and Pacific Islander American communities get the resources they need; for access to information databases that could help you stay informed and allow you to share vital facts with loved ones
Hotlines and Services
SAMHSA National Helpline 1 (800) 662 HELP (4357)
Provides 24 hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery in English and Spanish
Provides referrals to low cost mental health care, substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment
Asian American Christian Counseling Service 1 (800) 970-1112
Non-profit program that focuses on integrating biblical faith with Asian American cultural traditions through professional counseling and psychotherapy
24hr Asian LifeNet Hotline 1 (877) 990-8585
Languages available: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Fujianese
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273 TALK (8255)
SAMHSA funded, toll free, available 24/7. Available in over 150 languages.
NAMI Helpline 1 (800) 950 6264
Answers questions and concerns about mental health condition symptoms, treatment options, local support groups, education programs, job-finding programs
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 1 (888) 333-2377
Provides referrals to support groups, mental health professionals, resources on loss and suicide prevention information
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 799 7233
Provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) 1 (240) 485 1001
Provides information on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) 1 (800) 826 3632
Provides information on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support groups and forums
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 1 (866) 615 6464
Provides information on stats, clinical trials and research
These tests are not substitutes for professional help; rather these are resources to which you can refer to on your own.
PsyCom is a website that offers free brief quizzes to help people screen their own mental wellness. Available assessments include a paranoid personality disorder quiz, gender identity quiz, panic disorder quiz, depression quiz, anxiety assessments and much more. https://www.psycom.net/quizzes
Mental Health America similarly offers a variety of screening tools on their website: https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools
These are all tools that can help you build on your knowledge of mental health and potentially stay with you as good references to have in the future. Mental health is not close to being as widely spoken about as physical health, but it’s just as important.
The stigma around mental health within the Asian community needs to be addressed now, and this month is the perfect time to spread awareness about it. There is no reason to hide the symptoms of a mental illness; everyone deserves help. A conversation with a loved one is all it takes to start a larger and more diverse discussion regarding mental health.