Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Although the US has made progress in raising awareness of mental health and normalizing conversations about the topic, a great deal of stigma remains around mental illness and poor mental health, and many still face barriers to accessing services and supports.

Among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these issues are often shrouded by silence and shame, allowing misconceptions and minimization of mental health concerns to thrive.

But AAPIs are not a monolith . Our understanding of their mental health needs—and how we respond—should reflect the diversity of experiences within the AAPI community . Here’s what you should know about this important topic and underserved population this Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month . AAPIs are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to report mental health issues and to seek mental health services

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, AAPI adults report serious psychological distress at about half the rate of the US average —but there is wide variation between AAPI ethnic subgroups. Vietnamese Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders report poor mental health at rates closer to the US average than to their AAPI counterparts.

There are also notable differences in mental health across immigration-related factors . Second-generation AAPIs were almost twice as likely to report a mental health disorder in the past year than first-generation immigrants. But even after controlling for prevalence of mental illness, AAPI adults seek mental health services less than any other group. They are almost three times less likely than white adults to seek mental health services for unmet needs. A 2015 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study found AAPIs were more likely than people of other racial or ethnic identities to cite “low perceived need,” “structural barriers,” and “not thinking services would help” as reasons for not using mental health services. AAPIs face cultural and structural barriers to accessing mental health services

Although there are deep-rooted systemic challenges with the American mental health care system as a whole—such as inadequate funding and support, uneven geographic distribution of services, and fragmented and uncoordinated service providers— certain cultural and structural barriers also affect service provision and quality of care for AAPI communities more specifically.

Culturally specific attitudes among AAPIs that stigmatize help-seeking include the following: The model minority myth. The assumption that all AAPIs experience educational success and economic stability can place immense pressure on people to meet these societal and familial expectations, often at the cost of their mental well-being.

Generational experiences of hardship. Many first-generation AAPIs experienced trauma as immigrants or refugees adapting to life in a foreign land. As a result, younger generations often feel guilty about sharing their mental health […]

Continue reading the rest at www.urban.org

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