Asian-Americans Tackle Mental Health Stigma
In the U.S., an estimated 18.2 million people claim full or partial Asian descent, according to government figures. This group of people is diverse, ranging from fifth-generation Japanese to newcomers from India.
Estimates vary, but one recent study found Asian-Americans face a 17.3% lifetime chance of getting a psychiatric disorder, including depression. Although that rate was lower than among other minorities, the study called mental health among Asian-Americans a growing public health concern, given the stigma around treatment and barriers to getting it.
Asian Americans are less likely than whites to mention their mental health concerns to:
- A friend or relative (12% vs. 25%)
- A mental health professional (4% vs. 26%)
- A physician (2% vs. 13 %)
Studies of Asian-American college students have found that they had higher rates of depression than white students, and they showed the most distress at the time they sought counseling compared to all racial groups.
Suicide poses another hidden problem. It is the 8th leading cause of death for Asian-Americans, compared to 11th for the entire U.S. population. And the suicide rate of 11.6 per 100,000 for Asian women 65 and older is more than double that of white women.
“Mental health is a significant and unaddressed issue,” says Brian Gee, executive chair of the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association, a fraternity and sorority group engaged in the college partnership.