FilAm leaders say underemployment, mental health among pressing community issues

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

March 5, 2014

NEW YORK – Spearheaded by the Filipino American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI), of New York, community leaders in the Tri-State Area have come together to identify and look into the most pressing needs of Filipinos in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“FAHSI is trying to fill in the gaps in the social service needs of the community, and we can’t do that really unless we know what we need and we know what’s out there,” FAHSI’s Zultan Bermudez said.

Twenty years ago, the Asian American Federation of New York conducted its first community needs assessment.

FAHSI officials say the Filipino community’s social needs have changed and this new assessment would help them address current concerns of about 276,000 Filipinos in the Tri-State Area.

“The community needs assessment will definitely give a very a good profile of the Filipino community,” Consul General Mario De Leon of the Philippine Consulate of New York said. “So that advocacy groups and all community associations will be in a position to really address the needs of the community, particularly its more vulnerable groups.”

In the 1992 assessment, Jean Raymundo Lobell said that the groups with highest human service needs include the youth, the seniors and the domestic workers.

She said while seniors and domestic workers have similar concerns today, the Filipino youth’s joblessness or underemployment is a new concern after the great recession.

She says, FAHSI is here to connect them to the right organizations that could address their specific needs.

“That means education and employment,” FAHSI Co-Founder Jean Raymundo Lobell said. “So I think there is going to be support for programs that focus on retraining people or increasing their skill sets so that they can get better employment.”

FilAm psychology professor Doctor Kevin Nadal said mental health is another issue that is least talked about in the Filipino community because of the stigma attached to seeing a shrink or admitting to having mental health problems.

“We tend not to address them so a lot of times Filipinos have to suffer from things like depression, anxiety, and trauma, but yet they don’t seek services because of the shame and the hiya and that sort of thing,” Nadal said.

Community leaders here say that this community needs assessment is not just about the statistics, but it’s about starting conversations that would eventually identify the specific concerns of the community – so that Filipinos would start getting the help they need.

Click here for more information on the community needs assessment study and how you can help

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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  • Kikay Pang0
    5 March 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    FILAM Leaders ? Since when they become efficient to community ?