National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)

We evaluate our success by tracking our engagement through social media, number of educational materials distributed, number of contacts collected, and attendance at events we host; monitoring project evaluations; and conducting interviews with various stakeholders. Most of our projects involve a combination of both. For example, our video storytelling series,

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)

We evaluate our success by tracking our engagement through social media, number of educational materials distributed, number of contacts collected, and attendance at events we host; monitoring project evaluations; and conducting interviews with various stakeholders. Most of our projects involve a combination of both. For example, our video storytelling series, Project Human Every Day, involves interviewing AAPI individuals about their mental health, substance use, and recovery. We share these interviews with the larger community through our Youtube channel, social media platforms and partners and solicit feedback. We also collect surveys through in-person and online activities. Our latest survey gauges community awareness of stimulant and opioid use disorders in the San Gabriel Valley. This project is ongoing, and during this time, we have had in-depth conversations with respondents about their experiences, knowledge, and awareness of mental health and substance use disorders. We also found that although many surveyed had heard of different types of substances, many of them did not know how prevalent substance use disorders are, how to find resources or that there are resources available. Because this survey is also administered in Mandarin and Spanish, we also learned it was challenging translating words for opioids and identified gaps in language accessibility. From our community outreach, we have learned that many people are surprised by the information we share, especially around substance use disorders. Some individuals have expressed not having knowledge of others who shared their same concerns and not knowing that they could change things through community engagement and advocacy work. Lastly, we have learned that many of our community partners and providers do not have access to disaggregated data on mental health and substance use disorders for AAPI communities (we often get requests from our partners about resources and the latest data on AAPI communities), and are also looking for better ways to collect and engage communities to participate in these types of surveys and conversations.

About the Organization:

We evaluate our success by tracking our engagement through social media, number of educational materials distributed, number of contacts collected, and attendance at events we host; monitoring project evaluations; and conducting interviews with various stakeholders. Most of our projects involve a combination of both. For example, our video storytelling series, Project Human Every Day, involves interviewing AAPI individuals about their mental health, substance use, and recovery. We share these interviews with the larger community through our Youtube channel, social media platforms and partners and solicit feedback. We also collect surveys through in-person and online activities. Our latest survey gauges community awareness of stimulant and opioid use disorders in the San Gabriel Valley. This project is ongoing, and during this time, we have had in-depth conversations with respondents about their experiences, knowledge, and awareness of mental health and substance use disorders. We also found that although many surveyed had heard of different types of substances, many of them did not know how prevalent substance use disorders are, how to find resources or that there are resources available. Because this survey is also administered in Mandarin and Spanish, we also learned it was challenging translating words for opioids and identified gaps in language accessibility. From our community outreach, we have learned that many people are surprised by the information we share, especially around substance use disorders. Some individuals have expressed not having knowledge of others who shared their same concerns and not knowing that they could change things through community engagement and advocacy work. Lastly, we have learned that many of our community partners and providers do not have access to disaggregated data on mental health and substance use disorders for AAPI communities (we often get requests from our partners about resources and the latest data on AAPI communities), and are also looking for better ways to collect and engage communities to participate in these types of surveys and conversations.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

31+ YEARS

The Issue:

Our nation is currently at the grips of a mental health crisis that was worsened at the onset of the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, behavioral health providers and organizations already understood an extreme shortage of behavioral health providers and services, who’ve historically been underpaid and underfunded. On top of that, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are the least likely groups to seek behavioral health services. Part of this is due to the fact that there are many English language learners in our communities, and often times, services may not be available in the necessary languages. This is admittedly hard to address because the AAPI diaspora make up over 50 ethnic groups and over 100 spoken languages and dialects. This is further complicated by the fact that most large data sets aggregate our data and list us as “Asian Pacific Islanders,” which does not leave much room for understanding the nuances and dynamics of the various, rich cultures and histories that make our communities truly unique. While the AAPI diaspora is rich and diverse, something we tend to experience collectively is a sense of stigma and shame when it comes to talking about behavioral health. Folks within our communities who need behavioral health services often suffer in silence and turn to coping mechanisms such as self-medication through substance misuse, problem gambling, or even suicide. Currently, suicide is the number one cause of preventable deaths among young adults in our communities, whereas it is the 10th leading cause of preventable deaths among Americans in the same age group. COVID-19 has complicated our collective mental health. So much racist, xenophobic, and bigoted language has been attached to COVID-19, prompting a huge rise in hate crimes directed towards primarily East Asian-”appearing” community members, with nonbinary folks, women, and the elderly experiencing the worst of the hate crimes. Our collective histories are complicated, and the impacts of the Model Minority myth perseverate. We are learning to come together in new ways during a pandemic that has disconnected us in several capacities, to figure out how to reconnect and move forward together.

The Solution:

Our mission to involve, connect, and represent the communities we serve is at the core of our work and is needed to address the stigma of mental and behavioral health in our communities. We primarily focus on prevention, early intervention, and a broad-based view of behavioral health in AAPI communities. In each of our programs, we aim to have direct participation by everyday people; bring people together to share knowledge, tools, personal stories, and encouragement with each other; and work with people from all backgrounds, knowing that the well-being of one community is bound up with the well-being across diverse communities. Addressing behavioral health requires an interdisciplinary approach, taking them on through our projects and advocacy initiatives. We have worked on alcohol use and drunk driving prevention, tobacco use prevention and cessation, cannabis use, secondhand smoke, problem gambling, healthcare access, COVID-19 vaccination, the stigma in our communities surrounding mental health. We also provide ongoing technical assistance on cultural sensitivity. We work often with therapists, drug counselors, peer advocates, psychiatrists, community leaders, or faith-based organizations to help us move this work forward. Currently, we are conducting outreach, research, and education around opioid and stimulant use; sharing stories of substance use and recovery through our video podcast series, Project Human Every Day; and addressing anti-Asian hate crimes by hosting educational sessions with middle and high school students on AAPI- and LGBTQ+-led civil rights and social justice movements and their involvement with Latinx and African American communities to promote knowledge of self and intersectionality. These projects address the mental health crisis by coming together as a community to learn from and support each other. Mental health impacts everyone’s day-to-day and communities differently, depending on their culture and access to resources. While AAPIs are at the center of our work, working with other communities is a huge part of increasing the visibility of our work and AAPIs altogether.

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