NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) reintroduced legislation on May 25 to curb mental health stigma in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act instructs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide outreach and education strategies for the AAPI community by partnering with local advocacy and behavioral health organizations that have an established record of serving AAPIs.
These strategies will increase awareness of symptoms of mental illness common among AAPI populations, provide linguistically and culturally appropriate interventions, and encourage individuals and communities to use a comprehensive, public health approach when addressing mental and behavioral health.
A former clinical psychologist, Chu said, “I have seen firsthand how important mental health services can be. But still, too many in the AAPI community in particular suffer in silence, afraid to talk about a problem they don’t understand. This is exacerbated by the pervasive myth that AAPIs are a ‘model minority’ that do not suffer from mental and behavioral disorders. But it is imperative we help more Americans understand that health care includes mental health care.”
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, AAPIs are the least likely to seek out mental health services, contributing to the stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health disorders in the AAPI community.
“This bill is a crucial step towards properly addressing this issue within our community and creating a dialogue about the importance of mental health,” said Chu. “Through messaging and outreach that reflect the unique cultural and language needs of our community, we can save lives and get individuals the help they deserve.”
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