Understanding the mental health stigma in the AAPI community

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Many AAPI people feel too ashamed and proud to seek mental health help, which can lead to devastating events like the recent shootings and make it tough to cope.

SAN DIEGO — The recent violence in California against has devastated many Asian Americans who culturally don’t share their grief easily.

Many feel too ashamed and proud to seek mental health help, which can lead to events like this and make it tough to cope.

Over the last week, there have been three mass shootings in California, in two, the suspected gunmen are Asian.

“It’s an Asian male and it’s an elderly person, right. It’s already difficult enough being an Asian American to talk about mental health. These are two different parts of that special demographic that are further isolated and removed and have barriers to seeking mental health,” said Doctor Richard Moon, Kaiser Permanente Health San Diego.

He is a doctor of internal medicine and says not only does he see the challenges in Asian American patients seeking mental health care but also in his Korean American culture as well.

“We don’t recognize it, or we’re told not to talk about it as a model minority. And so, it comes out sideways in different ways as irritability, or anger or depression, or worse,” said Moon.

Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders echo Moon’s concerns. On Sunday, they will hold a community town hall.

“We don’t even have time to breathe, we don’t have time to breathe and exhale. And we’re just trying to be there for each other right now,” said Kirin Macapugay.

She serves on the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs and is planning the townhall with AAPI community leader JoAnn Fields. They say grieving can be difficult in their communities. They said it’s known as the model minority myth.

“This myth that we’re doing good, when really we’re not, our community is struggling quite a bit,” said Macapugay.

The townhall will include mental health resources and also a call to action from officials including more targeted programs and a response from people with knowledgeable cultural sensitivity.

“We have to have an action plan, not just a conversation, and I look forward to what is possible for  making a bigger impact and positive change,” said Fields, API Initiative Public Relations Director.

Part of that change is helping people know there is no shame in asking help.

“If you’re out there with trauma or anxiety or depression, don’t, don’t feel like you have to go through it by yourself. We see you we see the heaviness and the weight and the burden. You don’t have to do this by yourself,” said Moon.

Sunday’s townhall will start at 12:00 p.m. inside the San Diego Police Department Multicultural Center in City Heights at 5348 University Ave, Suite 100, 92105.

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