Katherine Wong/ High School: Orange County School of the Arts 11th
Mental health is not as easy topic to talk about. And for many Asian American teenagers, societal pressures along with an underlying cultural taboo may cause this discussion to become even more difficult.
Asian Americans are approximately three times less likely to seek out mental health support compared to other Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). In addition to that, suicide continues to be a leading cause of death for Asian American adolescents.
The well-known “model minority” stereotype is something that can greatly affect mental health in Asian Americans. This view inaccurately portrays Asian Americans to be less subjective to discrimination in America, as they have apparently “assimilated well” into American culture. Along with this is the preconception that every Asian American is studious and excels at academics. These stereotypes can, in reality, be extremely harmful to Asian Americans-especially young adolescents dealing with pressure from schoolwork. Asian Americans often feel that they must live up to these expectations bestowed upon them, creating an unhealthy environment of pressure that can lead to issues with mental health.
In addition, seeking out help with mental health can be extremely difficult for Asian Americans due to cultural limitations. Asian cultures often dictate discussions surrounding mental health as “taboo” or “unlucky”. This leads to mental health problems consequently getting worse over time without treatment.
Efforts to de-stigmatize mental health in Asian Americans have increased in recent years. Harvard University’s Asian Women’s Action for Resilience and Empowerment (AWARE) program offer group therapy sessions for Asian American women. These therapy sessions focus on topics ranging from discrimination to parenting styles. The program has been launched at both BU and Wellesley College and hopes to continue being implemented at more schools in the near future.
Speaking up about these issues is just the first of many steps towards lessening the shame surrounding mental health for Asian. As more coverage begin to surface regarding mental health issues, Asian can work towards breaking their boundaries by initiating and/or participating in conversations within their communities. Asian students can make efforts as well through starting school clubs, joining organizations for mental health, and vocalizing personal experiences.
<Katherine Wong/ High School: Orange County School of th