Anti-asian campaigns are not new in America. Reaching as far back as the late 1800s, crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, through both physical attacks and microaggressions, have only continued and have actually become part of the norm for many Asian-Americans. As the fastest growing and most diverse racial group in the United States with a long history of oppression, it is no wonder that mental health concerns are rising. With limited resources and a lack of conversation about mental health and substance abuse within the community, the need for help is higher than ever. Cultural ideals and stigmatization in many AAPI families and communities have made it difficult for individuals to believe that they may have a mental health concern, let alone seek help for it. And with a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes (almost 4,000 reported cases since March 2020) related to COVID and growing fear throughout the community, the need for mental health services has reached a critical point.
As direct racism and abuse continue to assault people of the AAPI community, concerns of depression and anxiety have led individuals, especially teenagers and young adults, to struggle with a sense of self and sense of control, leading to feelings of hopelessness and internalized hate for themselves. This combination of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness has increased substance abuse within the community as AAPIs look for ways to reduce negative emotions instead of turning to mental health services for professional help, despite the fact that suicide is the leading cause of death for Asian-Americans between the ages of 15 and 24.
Within the AAPI community, cultural beliefs and pressures have made it difficult for Asian-Americans to reach out for help. Factors like age, gender, occupational pressures, family values, and dynamics, as well as religious beliefs and spirituality typically drive individuals away from professional care. It can be seen as weak or disrespectful to turn to a therapist rather than to the family unit, and even then emotions are not widely expressed or discussed in these communities.
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA): A private, nonprofit organization that promotes prevention, education and support for Asian Americans and their families whose lives have been affected by substance abuse.
SAMHSA – A variety of AAPI substance abuse resources, data, and support.
BIPOC Only Recovery Dharma: A virtual support group for all POC in recovery that is inspired by Buddhist techniques.
YMSM + LGBT Center of Excellence: This organization delivers culturally-responsive and evidence-based prevention and treatment services for minority lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations dealing with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Asian Pride Project: A project highlighting the voices of LGBTQ individuals and their Asian and Pacific Islander (API) families and communities through film, video, photography and the written word – as a medium for social justice and advocacy in the LGBTQ realm.
GAPIMNY: This organization is working to empower queer and trans Asian Pacific islanders.
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA): This is a federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. They seek to develop leadership, promote visibility, educate the community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations and challenge anti-LGBTQ bias and racism.
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: This organization is committed to transforming the mental health of queer and trans people of color
Asian Mental Health Collective: A nonprofit working to normalize and de-stigmatize mental health within the Asian community.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI offers a full page of facts, statistics and resources surrounding the mental health of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Asian Counseling and Referral Services: This nonprofit promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities by developing, providing and advocating for innovative, effective and efficient community-based multilingual and multicultural services.
Asian American Psychological Assocation: An organization working to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities through research, professional practice, education, and policy.
The Asian American Health Initiative: This organization offers a full page of mental health advice and resources specifically tailored to aid Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Mental Health America: This organization offers comprehensive information on mental health trends in Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities as well as resources.
South Asian Therapists: A directory of South Asian mental professionals that provide therapy services around the country.
South Asian Sexual and Mental Health Alliance: This organization highlights topics such as sexual health, identity, reproductive health, sexuality, mental health and above all, what it means to grow up in an immigrant culture, balancing often-conflicting identities.
Asians do Therapy: A group working to reduce the stigma of therapy in the Asian American community and increase accessibility to mental health treatment.
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA): This organization’s mission is to raise awareness about the role of mental health in the AAPI community, advocate for suicide prevention, create access to high-quality mental health services and empower people to seek mental health support by working with both patients and community-led organizations.
The Asian Mental Health Project: This group empowers and educates members of the Asian American community in seeking mental health care. They maintain a therapist database, host digital summits and hold virtual check-ins with its community weekly.
Project Lotus: Through educating and empowering today’s Asian-American communities, Project Lotus advances the movement of Asian-American’s blossoming and addressing mental health stigma, shame, and overall perception and care of mental health.
Pretty Brown Girl: This organization empowers WOC while encouraging self-acceptance by cultivating social, emotional and intellectual well-being.
Women of Color Network Inc.: This group works in and beyond the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault to address a broad range of violence affecting communities of color such as human trafficking, police brutality and over-incarceration.
National Alliance of Multicultural Disabled Advocates: This is a network of organizers across the country who invest in the livelihood and leadership of Black and Brown people with disabilities. Their mission is to increase the representation and success of Black and Brown people with disabilities.
The Fireweed Collective: Formerly known as The Icarus Project, the Fireweed Collective offers mental health education and mutual aid for all people while centering the needs of those most marginalized by our society.
Misfortune Cookies: This podcast provides a space for Asian Americans to share their mental health stories while working to destigmatize conversations about the topic in the Asian American community.
The Mind Spot: A platform run by an Asian-American therapist and psychologist-in-training who regularly discusses how issues like racial trauma and internalized capitalism impact mental and emotional health.
In order to combat this anti-Asian ideation in America, it is important that we come together as a community and provide the support and resources that these individuals need. By making mental health and substance abuse care a priority, especially during a time of increased fear and unrest, we can make sure that members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community get help and move towards a better quality of life.
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