By. Jooyoung Kang
What do you think or feel when “mental health” comes to you?
As Korean American, I never knew how mental health can impact individual life or why people even get one. Mental health stigma placed shapely in my culture where we consider mental illness is for weak or crazy people. Showing that you are emotionally vulnerable is not how we wanted to present ourselves to others. Elders used to say, “Everyone feels that way. But we endure it.” “You are just overly sensitive.” or “You have a really weird personality. You will not get along with others if you have that attitude. Be positive.”
According to the American Psychological Association, Many second-generation Asian Americans deals with mental illness due to many factors, such as:
- Academics pressure from family members
- The taboo of mental illness
- Racial discrimination
- Balancing two different cultures
Soon as we realize that we were a hidden minority group in America, we wash away our rooted culture from us. As a girl who came from an immigrant family, in order to fit into American society, I had two conflicting cultures fighting against each other on many perspectives. Because of my emotions feeling ashamed of my Korean accent, felt embarrassed due to my Korean name that teachers mispronounce on every attendance, had to care if my look was “too Asian”, whatever that means, I was a muted girl for 7 years of my education up until college. I finally exploded with anxiety and panic attacks during my 3rd year of college when I couldn’t handle any more with everything. The pressure of being a good student with good grades, forcing myself to do work that I’m not doing well of to make my parents proud and make them feel that it was worth it for them to sacrifice their life in America for me, and to be a good worker or good friend who loved other more than herself even though it never ended up well.
Culture Matters: Indigenous Perspectives on Behavioral Healthcare film shows how indigenous groups use their own culture to help others with mental illness. Enduring and practicing their culture as a program was significant care that was different from my own Asian American people when they’re trying to gain mental health. I do believe it is very important for us to accept and ensure our own-rooted culture in order to build my own values instead of other values. Especially as an immigrant, it is hard to fit yourself into a new society and community with judgments just because of a difference. Only if I knew how to embraced my culture and learned how to cherish myself instead of comparing and self blamed through multiple discrimination as an Asian girl with an expected quiet role in the majority of the society.
After the breakdown, I decided to see a counselor. More than I ever expected, so many college students were seeking mental health resources just to make sure they are healthy to continue with their academic life. It was like getting a flu shot for your mental health. After going for a few sessions, I developed skills to understand that accepting and expressing was very important to me. I also learned to encourage others who have the same stigma of seeking mental health services to get help.
I wanna share The Power of Okay campaign that was created by SeeMe from Scottland to encourage employers to openly talk about mental health and support without feeling judged or discriminated against. The majority of us might experience how we SHOULD be okay because we are young to be depressed but we have experienced a bad day or some thinkings that you cannot unwind it. A simple question such as “are you okay” can help others to speak with confidence and open up about their mental health. It is so simple yet it can go such a long way for someone. For all of you who are reading this, it is okay not to be okay (From Jessie J Who U are).
Let’s ask each other this. Are you okay?
Nishi, K. (n.d.). Mental Health Among Asian Americans . Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/asian-american/article-mental-health
Xie, K. (2016, July 16). What It's Like to Be an Asian-American With Depression. Retrieved
February 23, 2020, from https://themighty.com/2016/07/living-with-depression-as-an-asian-american/
See Me is Scotland's Programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.seemescotland.org/resources/campaign-resources/power-of-okay/
Piedad, J. R. (2018, August 19). How Can We Change Minds About Mental Health? Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.tpr.org/post/how-can-we-change-minds-about-mental-health
Culture Matters: Indigenous Perspectives on Behavioral Healthcare. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=693&v=yfdCaFEls_c&feature=emb_title