Mental Health Stigma In Asian Culture

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By: Esha Patel, is a Junior at Parsippany Hills High School

MORRIS COUNTY — Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be in another culture’s environment? Well, I’m about to give you the inside scoop on the stigma behind mental health in the Asian community.

To most members, poor mental health simply doesn’t exist. In this case, the Asian community thinks they are helping their members become mentally stronger by encouraging them to suppress their emotions, but in reality, they are creating a mental health crisis for the individuals who are engaged in the suppression. With the stigma around mental health in Asian culture, it is normalized to assume mental health is not much of a significance anymore.

For example, research conducted and led by Abe-Kim et al. in the United States aimed to determine how many individuals in the Asian community were actually getting the mental health assistance they needed. The study noted,  “…only 8.6 percent of Asian-Americans sought any type of mental health services or resource compared to nearly 18 percent of the general population nationwide” (Spencer et al., 2010). With that 8.6 percentage, it proves the clarity of how little the Asian culture views the seriousness of mental help and awareness. It goes to show how they believe that it is okay for people to suffer in silence rather than getting the help that they need. Parents of Asian culture set very clear expectations for their children as they want them to succeed.

However, they fail to realize that the expense of that, comes with a cost of their child’s mental health and how much pressure is put on young kids growing up. Furthermore, in circulation with society and its embedded judgment, people, specifically when it comes to individuals in the Asian community, feel that they are obligated to live up to those stereotypical expectations.

One’s environment can affect their emotions and their way of thinking as one is continuously conditioned to think their mental health is not important enough to be prioritized and rather more of a burden instead. In this day and age, people value holding up their position in society or in school more than addressing mental exhaustion. The fear of being judged based on something that is considered a weakness overpowers the need to address these serious issues that could slowly and ultimately shadow over an individual’s true strength. Because it is not clearly seen and spoken about, much of the society in the Asian community aim to push their children to be the best, but in doing so, also simultaneously downplay the importance of mental health and what that can unhealthy lead to.

Side note: Despite what society has to think or say, your mental health is important! I urge you to put that as your top priority and get help if needed.