AAPI Heritage and Mental Health Awareness Month

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Here in the U.S., the month of May observes two important themes: Asian American Heritage and Mental Health Awareness. Asian American Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of Asian Americans to American history, culture, and society.

It is also a time to reflect on the challenges that Asian Americans face, including discrimination, prejudice, and racism. Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues, promoting mental well-being, and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

At the intersection of both themes, the Asian Professionals Employee Resource Network (ERN) organized a workshop on April 25 for employees, led by speaker and coach, JR Kuo, to learn about, share and discuss the mental health impact of anti-Asian racism. The workshop highlighted the history of Anti-Asian racism in the US, the effects that racism and discrimination can have on mental health, and tools that participants could use to support themselves and others.

Reports of Anti-Asian racism have increased in the wake of the pandemic. Many Asian Americans have reported feelings of anxiety, fear and isolation as a result of the rise in racism and hate crimes. Often compounding these challenges are complex racial and cultural barriers to receiving adequate help.

While people of all backgrounds are subject to mental health stigma, people of color — and particularly people of Asian heritage — frequently face additional pressures that can discourage them from seeking care. People of color who do seek support are also less likely to receive the same level of care as their white counterparts.

In my personal life, it has taken me quite a while to find a therapist who was willing to listen to and learn the nuances of my Asian upbringing. When I spoke of conflicts between my parents and me, therapists would often suggest I simply “distance myself” from them, leaving me no space to explain the significance and complexity of familial ties in my culture.

It felt like I was being prescribed a “one-size-fits-all” solution, and it left me feeling frustrated and alone.

Conversations around mental health and identity are key to shedding light on the unique challenges facing a group of people. They help to equip the participants with the ability to support themselves and others. While the focus for the AP ERN workshop last month was for people of Asian heritage, viewing and talking about mental health through an intersectional lens is a critical step forward for all.

About the author

Author Profile

Maya Zhou, Product Marketing Specialist, Schneider Electric

Maya Zhou joined Schneider Electric in August 2019 as a product marketer for various Transactional & Edge portfolios within Secure Power.

As an avid storyteller, Maya specializes in making power protection technology accessible to the everyday consumer and driving success through global e-commerce and multimedia marketing campaigns. 

She is also a huge advocate for mental health and aims to foster inclusive and caring environments inside and outside work.

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