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NAMI Report on Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health

Recovery for All
March 2011

AAPI report


click the above images to visit the the full report or web page containing the video prepared by Amanda Wang, producer and co-founder of RethinkBPD and participant in the 2010 NAMI AAPI Listening Session

Did you know that Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group, yet Asian Americans have the lowest utilization of mental health services? What can be done to change it? This and many other important considerations are addressed in the report released last month based on an Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Listening Session hosted by NAMI.

Participants of the listening session, held in Los Angeles in November 2010, included mental health experts from across the country representing many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Based on their discussion, key issues illuminated in the report document the diverse experiences of AAPI individuals and families within the mental health arena, including the many barriers and gaps faced when supportive services are needed.

The report highlights statistics from the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services Office of Minority Health and National Asian Women's Health Organization posing concern, including the following:

  • young Asian American women aged 15-24 die from suicide at a higher rate than other racial/ethnic groups;
  • suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall, compared to the ninth leading cause of death for white Americans;
  • older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over 65; and
  • among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet criteria for major affective disorders such as depression—with 81 percent among Cambodians and 85 percent among Hmong.

The report also shares recommendations on how such realities should be addressed by NAMI, AAPI individuals and families and the mental health system as a whole. Highlights of recommendations for improving access and quality of care for AAPI communities include the following:

  • creation of a national strategy of outreach and engagement using cultural messages, ambassadors and social media;
  • recognition of cultural influences that lead to stigma and shame regarding mental health treatment; and
  • partnership and collaboration among local, national and federal institutions to build sustain and strengthen efforts addressing mental health among AAPI communities.

Click here to access the report and view the video prepared by Amanda Wang, producer and co-founder of RethinkBPD and participant in the 2010 NAMI AAPI Listening Session.

Further reading: Making Possible More Transformative Moments: NAMI’s AAPI Listening Session, a NAMI blog guest post written by Jeong Shin, program manager of NAMI San Francisco and participant of the 2010 NAMI AAPI Listening Session.

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