a Supportive Place for Empowering Asian Americans and Kin (S.P.E.A.K.)

a Supportive Place for Empowering Asian Americans and Kin (S.P.E.A.K.)

Mission: Empowering AAPI community well-being through advocacy, education, research, and direct service. Vision: That every AAPI's path to growth and wellness is obstacle-free. Values: Empowerment. Respect. Community. Trust. Learning. Service.

a Supportive Place for Empowering Asian Americans and Kin (S.P.E.A.K.)

Mission: Empowering AAPI community well-being through advocacy, education, research, and direct service. Vision: That every AAPI's path to growth and wellness is obstacle-free. Values: Empowerment. Respect. Community. Trust. Learning. Service.

About the Organization:

Mission: Empowering AAPI community well-being through advocacy, education, research, and direct service. Vision: That every AAPI's path to growth and wellness is obstacle-free. Values: Empowerment. Respect. Community. Trust. Learning. Service.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

New York

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

New York

The Issue:

Suicide is the leading cause of death in young adult Asian Americans, and low rates of mental health utilization result in extremely poor management of mental health issues in the Asian American community. Moreover, high rates of depression and anxiety in Asian Americans have been exacerbated by racism and hate crimes during and after the height of the COVID19 pandemic. Despite these concerns, mental health resources and services tailored to the Asian American community do not exist in some parts of the country, such as Westchester County, New York, where there has been a 27% growth of Asian Americans in the last 10 years, compared with <6% growth for the entire county. While Asian Americans are not a monolith, there are historical and cultural references normalizing suicide and refusal of help-seeking. Moreover, the stigma that comes with mental health treatment is complex; when many in the Asian American community assign a person’s worth as dependent on their ability to care for family and community, mental illness can be seen as taking away an individual’s ability to care for others, thereby rendering the individual worthless. These references serve as a small sampling of how cultural context is important in understanding why the gaps in healthcare and disparities in health equity exist; our medical model is Eurocentric. Ongoing racism, past and present, have also significantly traumatized the Asian American community, and intergenerational trauma, in which a parent exhibits trauma behaviors that negatively impact their children, elongates mental illness through generations. The racism brought on by COVID-19 is this generation’s trauma. Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by anti-Asian hate than by the pandemic, suggesting that the ripple effects of mental illness are expected to last generations without prevention and intervention. We want to pilot a comprehensive mental health education and wellness organization tailored to the Asian American community in Westchester County, NY, and we want to expand this model if the pilot program is successful. Without urgent intervention, the impact of inadequate mental health support could worsen an already distressed Asian American community.

The Solution:

Our solution takes a 3-pronged approach to begin addressing the mental health needs of the Asian American community in Westchester, NY: Speak OUT, Speak UP, and Speak NOW . (1) Speak OUT ( Education) . Normalization and destigmatization of mental health symptoms and treatment is essential for moving the conversation about mental health in the Asian American community forward, but these conversations are not always readily received. We propose a two-part intervention, with (1) behavioral health specialists such as psychologists speaking with communities directly about mental health-related topics (e.g., Impact of stigma on poor mental health utilization; Emotions triggered by racism and hate crimes; Lack of treatment and impact on depression and associated sequelae, including suicide), and (2) partnering with community "champions" who can a) deliver simple, "light touch" interventions, b) identify those needing professional support, and c) encourage professional care. (2) Speak UP (Research) . A crucial first step for addressing the needs of the Asian American community is a better understanding of how to work with cultural beliefs that can deter mental health help-seeking behaviors. A community-based research approach (CBPAR) would be used with the above educational component. For example, acceptability of mental health treatment can be measured before and after attendance at community events, etc. The second step is to improve gaps in knowledge, which would be imperative for decreasing mental healthcare disparities in Asian Americans. For example: updating data on how COVID19 has disproportionately impacted Asian Americans, tailoring interventions to the Asian American community. With new research and knowledge, advocacy and change efforts can come from both mental health specialists as well as community members. (3) Speak NOW ( Direct services) . As indicated by Asian American Westchester community members in a needs survey conducted in August 2022, there are currently few Asian American practitioners providing mental health services that are known to the Asian American community. A central location and clinic offering these services to the community and/or online provider directory of specialists would allow for better navigation to needed care. Insurance, language, and access issues would also be addressed.

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