"How are you?" is such a common greeting and we often respond with “fine” or “good” without giving the question much thought. The truth, though, is many of us are not okay right now. Communities that have been historically oppressed especially face a more profound mental health burden because of the added impact of trauma, oppression, and harm. We saw this bear out during the pandemic when we all witnessed a horrifying uptick in anti-Asian hate and violence that continues to traumatize our Asian communities.
With Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month occurring in May, now is a good time to acknowledge the devastating impact of racism on both physical and mental health. A nationwide survey by Stop AAPI Hate and the Edelman Data & Intelligence Team found that almost half of Asian Americans who reported a hate incident also reported depression or anxiety. Nearly three-quarters said discrimination is their greatest source of stress, even ahead of health concerns. According to the American Psychological Association, Asian Americans are three times less likely than other racial groups to seek care for their mental health. Language barriers, stigma, intergenerational trauma, and a “tough it out” mentality are reasons many in the Asian community don’t reach out for help. Another barrier is the model minority myth which assumes all Asian Americans are compliant and successful – or “model” citizens. A lack of mental health professionals trained to handle issues culturally specific to Asian Americans also influences whether care is sought. Destigmatizing the use of mental health services is a great first step towards ensuring those who need it are empowered to seek out mental health treatment.
As we continue to acknowledge the importance of mental health and our overall well-being, we must also recognize mental health conditions, resources, and conversations can still feel complicated and out of reach for some of us. I hope we continue to check in with each other, and when we ask, “How are you really doing?”, it leads to deeper, more honest conversations about where we are on our mental health journey.
Please check out the booklists compiled by the CCC Library in honor of AAPI Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental Health Resources for Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities
24/7 access to trained counselors to help people experiencing mental health-related distress, thoughts of suicide, or substance use crisis. Call or text “988” or chat 988lifeline.org
Contra Costa County Mental Health strives to create an effective, high-quality, integrated system to meet the needs of all residents of Contra Costa County. Any Contra Costa resident who experiences a mental or emotional crisis can get help from our Crisis Services. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: https://cchealth.org/mentalhealth/
Asian Family Resource Center – Vistability – Richmond. Provides site-based life skills support groups in Laotian, Mien, Khmu, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Services: Adult Day Programs, Developmental Disabilities Social/Recreational Programs, Family Counseling, Immigrant Mutual Assistance Associations, Individual Counseling, Refugee Resettlement Services: https://cccc.myresourcedirectory.com
Community Health for Asian Americans - (CHAA) – Antioch and Richmond. Provides Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) counseling for children, adolescents, families and groups aged 5 to 21 in home, school, or office: http://chaaweb.org/programs/behavioral-health/
NAMI API/Mandarin Support Group. Provides weekly support group for API/Mandarin community, family, and friends of mental health consumers: www.namicontracosta.org/family-support.html
CalHOPE Connect is Contra Costa County’s first non-clinical support program for Asians, designed to support peers, families, and communities. CalHOPE is brought to you by California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) through a partnership with California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and local Mental Health Providers/Partners: https://calhopeconnect.org/
CalHOPE AAPI WarmLine: If you are not in crisis but still want to talk to someone, try calling a warmline. A warmline is a peer-run listening line staffed by people in recovery themselves.
Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA): dedicated to advancing the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities through research, professional practice, education, and policy: https://aapaonline.org/
The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA) promotes the mental health and well-being of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. NAAPIMHA maintains a list of service providers in all 50 states.
- Directory of Mental Health Service Providers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (by state)
- Combating Racism Resources
A directory of South Asian therapists, including therapists of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Afghanistani, and Nepali heritage.
Asian Mental Health Collective raises awareness about the importance of mental health care, promotes emotional well-being, and challenges the stigma concerning mental illness amongst Asian communities globally: https://www.asianmhc.org/
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Blogs are resources for people who are interested in mental health. They feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma, and strategies for living well:
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of everyone. MHA offers a collection of online, free, confidential, anonymous, and scientifically validated screening tools to help individuals understand and learn more about their mental health: https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools
Stop AAPI Hate works to advance equity, justice, and power by dismantling systemic racism and building a multiracial movement to end anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate: https://stopaapihate.org/
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are experiencing a mental or emotional crisis, call our 24-hour Access Line at 1-888-678-7277 for mental health resources or the Contra Costa Crisis Center at 1-800-833-2900 for 24-hour crisis support.