Stigma Prevents Asian Americans From Seeking Mental Health Care
A stigma toward mental illness in the Asian Pacific Islander community in California and other states keeps many individuals from seeking needed treatment, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
Asian Americans use mental health services about half as much as the general population, according to a report by the California Asian Pacific Islander Joint Legislative Caucus.
Meanwhile, a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that Asian American women in certain age groups have the highest number of suicide mortality rates of any ethnicity.
Details of Stigma
Michi Fu -- director of prevention projects at Pacific Clinics throughout California -- said people in the Asian community "are willing to die" rather than seek care for mental illnesses because “[w]hen you have a mental illness, it's not just you that is impacted. There's a reflection, supposedly, on the entire family name."
Young Ahn -- mental health services coordinator for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health -- said it is important for professionals to use other avenues to reach Asian individuals in need of mental health care. "Don't even mention mental illness ... They're not going to come," Ahn said.
She said that she has successfully discussed mental health issues with Korean Americans by introducing the concept as stress management.
In addition to the stigma, Rocco Cheng -- project leader for the California Reducing Disparities Project's Asian Pacific Islander division -- said individuals in the Asian community face several other challenges to obtaining mental health care services, including:
- Language disparity;
- Access to transportation; and
- Unfamiliarity with Western mental health services.
Cheng said, "[M]any of the API community members, even if they had the need, could not access the service."
He said that providers should focus on making mental health information available in languages that minority groups will understand (Kim, "KPCC News," KPCC, 10/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.