Community leaders and health officials work to destigmatize mental health among Asian Americans

ALHAMBRA, CALIF. — The month of May is also Mental Health Awareness month. Steve Angeles tells us how both the community, artists and health officials are teaming together to shed light on this often taboo subject.

A simple play is written by and out by Chris Aguilar.

The plot is based on his own personal history, dealing with his own mental health issues.

“I think my experience with my bipolar disorder; I really wanted to speak out about it, so I put all that energy onto a page.”

Growing up, not many people knew Aguilar was going through personal issues, never revealing his mental health to people outside of his family, which led to more friction.

His play hopes to battle the stigmas of addressing mental health, so others can find peace.

“I think we’re all exceptional human beings and APIs need to be able to stand firm, stand up proud and loud… just saying these words out loud, and having somebody listen is one of the most important things in the API community.”

Aguilar’s play is just one of many ways Los Angeles County is observing May as mental health awareness month.

The Los Angeles Department of Mental Health is making sure to reach out to focus on communities that stigmatizes mental health issues, such as Asian Americans.

“It’s a taboo subject really across cultures, and the  Asian Pacific Ilanders have this really unique feature,” says Nina Tayyib Psyd. “So we thought it’d be good to bring folks together, share those different perspectives, not just ethnic wise, but across various API communities, also across ages and cultural affiliations.”

This month, there will be a series of events highlighting mental health awareness, while showing that physical health can play a role.

All of it promoting places where people can seek free or low-cost help.

“Mental health is actually often covered in private insurance plans so a person can just call their insurance company or they can talk to their medical doctor or primary care ,and ask if they’re covered of course if a person doesn’t have insurance… we are here to serve those that are underserved, uninsured, that are undocumented, low income really for everyone.”

One of the first ways to find help is the mental health department’s 24-hour multilingual hotline: 1-800-854-7771.

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