Common Issues That Impact Asian American Mental Health
There are many mental health concerns facing the AAPI community. In addition to common everyday stressors like significant life changes, basic anxiety, types of depression, relationship problems, and a lack of sleep, Asian Americans might also struggle with racial discrimination, stereotypes, and other concerns. These are just a few factors contributing to Asian American mental health issues.
Discrimination & hate crimes
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by more than an astounding 339% in 2021. This surge of attacks and discriminatory behavior has caused many people to experience a decline in mental health. In a recent survey, 42% of Asian Americans said that racial discrimination is the issue that has the most significant impact on their mental health.
Model minority myth
Misconceptions about model minorities have been damaging to many Asian Americans. The model minority myth describes when a blanket statement or assumption is made about an entire group or community.
For example, one minority myth relates to people in the Asian community having superior intelligence. Unfortunately, if someone internalizes these myths, they can often feel increased pressure to succeed, potentially damaging their mental health and psyche. These beliefs can negatively impact self-esteem and cause people to feel inferior to others.
Family pressure & expectations
Collectivist values are common in Asian communities. Although these values can lead to strong family bonds, they can also create high expectations. People who struggle to live up to these expectations may experience types of stress. Some might feel pressured to hide mental health symptoms to avoid disappointing family members.
“Due to the collective nature of the Asian communities, there’s a high price on making sure that personal or family issues are not divulged to others within the community. ‘Saving face’ is the idea that family/individual issues stay private for fear of losing standing within the community. It is one of the deterrents for many Asian Americans not to seek mental health help. The fear of being ostracized from the community can be so great that family members will discourage or shame an individual from speaking out.”
Racial stereotypes can cause Asian Americans to feel diminished or like their accomplishments aren’t being recognized. Stereotypes can also reinforce unhealthy cultural expectations, making it more difficult for people to seek support and can even cause people to develop racial trauma. While negative stereotypes are clearly damaging, even those that are seemingly positive can negatively affect a person’s mental health.
Racial imposter syndrome
Racial imposter syndrome causes people to feel like their true self doesn’t match other people’s perceptions of their racial identity. As a result, many Asian Americans feel they have to hide aspects of their culture to fit in. Experiencing racial imposter syndrome puts people at increased risk for depression and anxiety.
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