For too many Americans, and for those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the past year has presented serious challenges: a global pandemic that caused suffering at home and abroad, political and social unrest, and economic struggles. Add to all that, there has been an ongoing series of violent attacks on Asian Americans including horrific shootings in Atlanta and Indianapolis.
For many in the Asian American community—and among communities of color—the hostility is not necessarily something new but rather reflective of underlying issues that the pandemic has exacerbated. These factors concern us as advocates for the health and well-being of the AAPI community, as well as communities of color writ large and our nation’s public health. Americans have increasingly negative views about China as it becomes more of an economic competitor. On top of that, there has been scapegoating of Asian-owned businesses with regard to COVID-19.
Some health experts warn that the COVID-19 pandemic will be followed by widespread mental health issues caused by the stressors that the pandemic has caused—social isolation, economic anxiety, and political and social unrest that have engulfed our collective psyche. For many communities of color, these stressors have already brought to light disparities in our health care system, particularly our mental health system.
As policymakers and stakeholders envision a new system, particularly for mental health, in a post-pandemic world, we should add our voices for a more equitable system by calling out the circumstances facing the Asian American community. This is a pivotal time to not only address the coming “second pandemic” of mental health issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic but also to rebuild the health care system and address systemic changes that have long needed attention.
Read more at HealthAffairs.com.