Mental Health Spotlight: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

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How can we better serve Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes increase in the United States following the COVID-19 pandemic?

Historically, Asian Americans are the least likely of any group to seek mental health services, according to Mental Health America. Understanding why, and becoming familiar with the growing resources available to support them, enables vocational rehabilitation professionals to provide needed supports and remove or reduce barriers to employment.

Understanding Barriers to Service

Some estimates claim Asian Americans have the most trouble accessing mental healthcare due to language barriers of all ethnic and racial groups living in the U.S. And because fewer Asian Americans seek mental health services than other groups, those who do may not find providers and groups with whom they can relate.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders may also face these challenges:

  • Discussing mental health is considered taboo in many Asian cultures. Because of this, Asian Americans may dismiss, deny, or neglect their symptoms. (Spencer et al., 2010)
  • Lack of awareness of the resources and services that are available, as well as the stigma surrounding mental health issues, are the biggest deterrents in seeking professional help. (Spencer et al., 2010)
  • Most young Asian Americans tend to seek out support from personal networks such as close friends, family members, and religious community members rather than seek professional help for their mental health concerns. (Spencer et al., 2010)
  • Historically, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had challenges in accessing health care and insurance. (Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey, 2018)

Source: Mental Health America

    Resources to Support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

    Use these resources to better understand the issues and learn how to best support and provide services to Asian Americans with mental health needs:

    Trending Articles and Initiatives

    Resources and Training for Professionals

    Resources for Individuals and Families

    Mental Health Service Provider Directories

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