Experts and community advocates shed light on mental health in time of pandemic

May is not only Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it’s also Mental Health Awareness Month. With this pandemic fueling health problems, economic hardships and hate crimes against Asians, advocates said it’s now more important than ever to let Asian American communities talk about their mental health.

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association and the management consulting firm – Change Matrix – hosted a roundtable discussion to shed light on AAPI mental health in time of pandemic.

“Mental health is now part of the highly news of trauma, depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. Tensions are growing as thought of people getting sick, becoming depressed because of social isolation,” said Dj Ida.

Finding help could be even more difficult as many of these renowned panelists admitted that patient interaction has also been limited.

“Folks are not able to navigate how to get online or how to have video chats with providers or therapists. But at the same time just the access, being able to access care has been a significant challenge,” says Richelle Concepcion of the Asian American Psychological Association.

Concepcion said for the Filipino community, this is another cause of stress.

“We have a lot of nurses that work in our hospitals so other medical providers, they have to come home to their families and deal with the stress of needing to socially isolate when that’s really unrealistic from an emotional and physical standpoint.”

She said many local governments and associations have also come up with programs to address mental health.

“The Hawaii psychological association has established a network of providers who provide free or care on a sliding scale for individuals who lost their health insurance and require mental health services.”

Other experts said sometimes the best medicine is a community effort.

“Restaurant chains collaborated with us and volunteer groups to bring meals with messages of caring, of support to them in three days and times it is not about self-actualizing that they need, it is about in the hierarchy of tangible needs, that we are there for them. We are still there for them,” said
Terry Gock.

A list of resources, including community groups addressing COVID-19 can be found on NAAPIMHA’s website.

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