Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic communities in the United States. While APAs tend to be healthier than whites and other ethnic groups, research suggests that APAs face many barriers when seeking mental health services in their communities, including stigma, lack of access to care, language challenges and lack of culturally and linguistically responsive providers. Cultural beliefs and values play an important role in how Asian Americans experience their mental health issues. The cultural adherence to avoidance of shame and stigma also remains a powerful influence on how APAs deal with mental illness—many individuals and families remain in denial or silence about their situation.
Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group according to a report released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The report is based on a “listening session” with mental health experts from different Asian American communities held in Los Angeles in November 2010. Key issues in the report include barriers to mental health services and negative perceptions of mental health problems particular to APA communities. The report highlights statistics from the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) and National Asian Women’s Health Organization (NAWHO) posing concern.
* 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;
* Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over 65; and
* Among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet criteria for major affective disorders such as depression—with 81 percent among Cambodians and 85 percent among Hmong
You can see the full report here.
Mental Health and the Asian American community