Asian Americans and Mental Health
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as a population report fewer mental health concerns than do whites; however:
19 % of Asian American high school students say they have considered suicide, versus 15.5% of whites.
10.8% of Asian American high school students report having attempted suicide, compared to 6.2% of whites.
Relative to other U.S. populations, Asian Americans are 3 times less likely to seek mental health services.
Nearly 50% of Asian Americans will have difficulty accessing mental health treatment because they do not speak English or cannot find services that meet their language needs.
Mental health is one of the most taboo subjects in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The unwillingness to discuss feelings and emotions takes a severe toll on them. Asian Americans are least likely to seek mental health services out of any other ethnic group; this intolerance that is instilled in Asian cultures is what results in the statistics above.
Studies among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have shown several common sources of stress that affect the individual's overall mental health. Some include:
Parental pressure to succeed in academics, and pursue professional careers in engineering, business, medicine, etc.
A tendency to dismiss, deny, or neglect symptoms causing an inability or unwillingness to discuss mental health.
Discrimination due to racial or cultural background
Difficulty balancing the American culture with their Asian culture (Acculturation)
The pressure to live up the “model minority” stereotype – a cultural expectation that every member of the community must be smart, wealthy, self-reliant, obedient, docile, and spiritually enlightened
For these reasons and more, many Asian Americans feel that therapy is not even an option for them. But for those who can overcome those cultural barriers, they may face even more difficulty finding an appropriate mental health service. As the majority of Asian Americans were born outside the United States, there is a tremendous amount of cultural and linguistic diversity within its population. The high proportion of immigrants in the Asian American community presents a challenge for mental health systems to provide a nuanced and culturally competent quality service for the client.
For those Asian-American who are unsatisfied with their services, or cannot overcome the ever-so-present cultural stigma, they tend to seek out support from personal networks including friends, family, and their religious community rather than from mental health professionals. Participants in a study stated that the biggest deterrent in seeking professional help is the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues, in addition to lack of awareness of the resources and services available to them.
AYANA exists to solve these issues. We provide a variety of culturally competent therapists – who literally and figuratively speak your language – to adhere to your needs. Our unlimited and anonymous texting feature can allow you to communicate conveniently and without fear of judgment. We strive to eliminate the cultural stigma that is holding so many Asian Americans back from using the services that they deserve.