By Beatriz Leite
This past Saturday afternoon, the Asian American community of Boston and Somerville gathered at the Somerville High School to learn how to destigmatize and understand the importance of caring for their mental health. This forum was a result of a partnership between Somerviva: Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Somerville Department of Health and Human Services, and the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC).
Held in Cantonese, with an instant Mandarin translation, the event catered to Asian immigrants and their families. The workshop focused on changing the idea that mental health is taboo while educating on anxiety, and depression, and addressing gambling addiction and how that can affect a family’s wellbeing.
According to The Mass General Hospital, only 8.6% of Asian Americans sought mental health services and resources. The University of Maryland conducted a study that examined the mental health needs of young Asian American adults. The results indicated that most participants had some issues, however, they refused to seek help due to the shame and embarrassment caused by the taboo in their communities.
BCNC’s representative talked about the stigma that mental health carries within Asian communities.
“Our goal is to show that having anxiety and depression is ok, and it does not make you a crazy person,” she said.
To change the perspective of the present families on mental health, the workshop invited Angel Chan, with a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She started with an explanation of what mental health means. The speaker proceeded to explain how to identify depression and anxiety along with demystifying common misconceptions about the disorders. She also discussed how to be a non-judgmental listener to help others.
Another main topic discussed was the issue of gambling addiction and how it is larger than casinos and how it does not only happen in adults. Chan described how this addiction compromises a family dynamic and gave tips on the need to seek help.
The associations hope that the instructions given in the talk will help the community to seek help if needed and recognize the need of others and help them get the treatment and support available.