Monday, July 24, 2017

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Stigma towards mental health and receiving mental healthcare exists within many Asian American communities.To say that Asian Americans do not experience mental health concerns is a myth; it is, in fact, an extension of the Model Minority Myth, or the false stereotype that lumps all Asian Americans together as being wealthy, highly educated, well-adjusted to the US, and healthy—including mentally healthy.

According to Mental Health America, about 5.4% of the US population identifies as Asian American or Pacific Islander and about 13% of those individuals have a diagnosable mental disorder—that equates to about 2.2 million people. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for Asian Americans, but the second leading cause of death among Asian Americans between 15 and 24 and the third leading cause of death among 25-34 year-olds. When you look closely at research, you find more information: on depression, anxiety, intimate partner violence—all mental health issues that exist within and affect the Asian American community.

Despite these data, barriers to seeking and receiving mental health care exist. Relative to other US populations, Asian Americans are three times less likely to see a mental health provider. Even if Asian Americans do access mental health care, they are more likely to stop receiving care early in the treatment process. The struggles of dealing with stigma towards mental health also affect local Asian Americans living in Montgomery County, Maryland. A study done with Asian American young adults in Montgomery County identified six main barriers to seeking mental health care, one of which was stigma and negative perceptions of those seeking counseling.

As part of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, if you find that you or a loved one needs additional help, the Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), a part of Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services, encourages you to contact your primary care doctor. You may also contact Montgomery County Access to Behavioral Health Services at 240-777-1770, which offers free mental health screenings and referrals both over the phone and in person. If you are a Montgomery County resident, low income, uninsured, and need primary care, you can contact Montgomery Cares Clinics through MC311 by dialing 240-777-0311.