Why should we care about AAPI mental health?
Due to many factors including cultural values, generational gaps, and harmful stereotypes, Asian Americans grapple with serious mental health issues that often go unnoticed. The statistics are shocking:
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and the National Asian Women’s Health Organization,
- Asian American girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of any racial/ethnic or gender group;
- Young Asian American women ages 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than other racial/ethnic groups;
- Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall, compared to the ninth leading cause of death for white Americans;
- Among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet criteria for major affective disorders such as depression— with 81 percent among Cambodians and 85 percent among Hmong.
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What does the Asian American Psychological Association do?
Started in 1972 in the San Francisco Bay Area by a group of Asian American psychologists under the direction of Dr. Derald Sue and Dr. Stanley Sue, AAPA provides resources pertaining to psychology and mental health for the AAPI community. It has grown to include over 400 members nationwide.
- Publishes the Asian American Journal of Psychology (AAPA’s official publication)
- Goal is to advance mental well-being of AAPI community through effective research, education, and professional practice
- Publishes articles utilizing diverse approaches and methods to psychology-related research to be used in the field.
- Help develop mental health practitioners equipped to best meet the needs of the AAPI community
- Place to exchange and share new mental health methods and practices that can be used in hospitals, schools, government, etc.
- Advocates for the overall success of Asian Americans in government so that all voices can be represented
- AAPA Membership
- Member database for therapy referrals
- Participate in learning and discussion forums with reputable leaders in the psychology field
- Link with a mentor to seek research or professional opportunities
- Asian American Psychologist newsletter
- Publishes news and events three times a year
- Undergraduate Consortium
- Forum for volunteer/research opportunities and college courses about Asian American psychology
- Job Board
- Postings about Asian American psychology and mental health are kept up to date for the AAPI community
- Annual Convention
- Researchers, students, professionals, and policy-makers come together to discuss relevant issues pertaining to Asian American psychology and mental health
- Emphasizes coalition building and encourages the AAPI community to think about their roles in the greater social justice movement
What does mental health have to do with social justice?
Self-care is a critical component in dealing with the psychological consequences of being a racialized group within American society. Racism and discrimination have long lasting psychological effects, as evident in the high rates of mental health issues in the AAPI community. Mike Murase, an important Asian American activist, sums up the importance of mental health for the advancement of social justice. He says the forceful assimilation to American culture through Japanese internment during World War II caused “the serious erosion of dignity and pride in being Japanese. This can be seen in the unusually high rate of stress-related diseases and premature death rate among Nisei, as well as in the extremely high percentage of intermarriage to whites and loss of culture and language among Sansei (third generation Japanese).” Dignity and culture are nearly impossible to regain once destroyed. Through research, professional practice, education, and policy, AAPA does incredibly important work to better the mental health of Asian Americans and regain the dignity and culture that has been destroyed.
In addition, the advancement of the AAPI community will uplift other oppressed groups through coalition building. “AAPA encourages the AAPI community to focus on the commonalities between the social struggles of AAPIs and those of other marginalized groups (e.g., Latinos, Native Americans, African Americans, refugees). As AAPA continues to further its social justice agenda, we invite the AAPI community to think about our role in the larger social reform movement.”