A Pakistani therapist shares some insight: When I started my undergraduate degree in psychology, my grandmother said she was afraid I would become pagal (“crazy”) because of it. Her fears were well-intentioned and full of love for me, but they were reflective of a deeper problem I’ve seen in many Asian communities: misconceptions and stigma around mental health.
As a Pakistani therapist, I’ve spent a fair share of my time discussing and debating the legitimacy of mental health as a health care issue (both with clients, as well as within my own friends and family network). One thing I have noticed, which gives me immense hope—especially when it comes to conversations about Asian American mental health—is that talking about mental health is a powerful step towards destigmatizing it and increasing empathy between people. Sharing your mental health journey with your Asian parents can be daunting. But it can also be incredibly important, especially in the face of the increased violence we’re seeing against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States.
The cultural myths about mental illness within Asian American communities and the diaspora are strong and persistent. Research has shown that within Asian cultures, mental illness is often seen as a weakness or a lack of willpower. It can even be seen as contagious. For Asian Americans in particular, pressure to live up to limiting stereotypes can also play a role. But that silence around mental health translates into tragic statistics on a larger scale. If you’re thinking about sharing your mental health journey with your Asian family, there are a few strategies you can use to have an easier, more productive conversation.
Read more at Self.com.