A new report lists multiple ways in which lawmakers and other thought leaders across the country can help Asian American communities obtain improved access to mental health services.
Nationally, about 37 percent of people of Asian descent indicate that they have poor mental health, according to a report just released by the Center for American Progress. This is defined by the Kaiser Family Foundation as having one or more of the past 30 days during which one’s mental health “wasn’t good.” Poor mental health includes depression, stress and emotional problems.
Moreover, Asians are three times less likely than Whites to seek and utilize mental health services.
Among the factors that result in such disparities is the misconception that Asian Americans are monolithic and don’t need such help, along with the pervasive Model Minority Myth.
The Center for American Progress report states that lawmakers should expand the collection and publication of fully disaggregated health data of the different Asian subgroups.
“Too many analyses currently rely on aggregated data that provide an incomplete picture of these diverse communities,” the report stated. “Collecting sufficiently large samples of data on Asian-American ethnic groups is difficult. However, it is essential for crafting truly responsive public policy, especially health policy.”
Because Asians come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, there is a “harmful and inaccurate narrative of homogeneity” in these communities stemming largely from too little disaggregated data, the new report states.
Previous studies have found significant discrepancies among the mental health needs of different Asian populations. For example, 33 percent of Korean American adults experience symptoms of depression, compared with less than 16 percent of Chinese Americans. Among Filipino American women, 78 percent describe their mental health as excellent or very good, compared with just 45 percent of Chinese American women and 50 percent of Vietnamese American women.
Meanwhile, too many Asian Americans still lack affordable access to mental health services, the report stated.
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