One of the most detrimental myths to Asians and Asian-Americans is the model minority myth for a number of reasons – mental health definitely being one of those reasons. Mental health and the awareness of mental illnesses are not generally talked about in the Asian household – treated as shameful anomalies in the community. Some statistics cited from the Asian Health Coalition, stated that Asian-American women have the highest suicide rate among women over age 65 as well as the second highest among women 15 to 24. Without talking about mental health in the AAPI community, we silence and shame those who suffer.
Around this time last year, I remember bringing up to my mom, over dinner, the news stories about college students who had tragically committed suicide recently. My mom’s response was “that girl/guy is crazy”. Crazy. This is not normal. You cannot be accepted if you are this. I’ve heard from my parents time and time again what is acceptable and what isn’t. And unfortunately, mental illness falls into the unacceptable. As a second-generation Asian-American like Ramey Ko, I battle with the messages I receive regarding mental health every day. Personally, I think the most important first step is to learn about it, really educate yourself on the advocacy surrounding it, the dialogue about it, and the various outlets/resources there are. Then, to approach those in the community – family and friends – normalizing this conversation. By starting the dialogue ourselves, maybe one day seeking help and discussing mental health in the AAPI community won’t be so taboo. This is important to equip ourselves with the tools to lead healthier lives and to fully support others who need it. We and our loved ones don’t need to suffer with mental illness in silence. #FriendsDoMakeADifference
Ramey Ko has shared this story with us, let’s share our stories too and raise awareness for AAPI mental health.