Mental Health Support in AAPI Communities

In May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, a time where we raise awareness of the toll mental health can have and the many stigmas associated with mental health among many other mental health-related aspects. Through social media campaigns, events and even screenings, organisations across the United States participate in providing key resources for something that affects us all. In that same breath, just as many organisations come together during May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The contributions and influence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made in the U.S. are highlighted and acknowledged. That is why it is only fitting that the intersection between these two is recognised.

While the U.S. categorises many into the term AAPI, we understand and recognise that encompassed within are a wide range of unique and diverse identities, countries, nationalities, and ethnicities. Many who have not only experienced great joy and achievement but unfortunately have also experienced a variety of different challenges, struggles, and trauma. Through the perpetuated model minority myth, various microaggressions, and physical violence, AAPI communities have been and continue to be unjustly treated.

Before we can dive deep into ways to support and resources, understanding barriers to support is the first step as we seek to overcome them. While there are a few, there is still very limited knowledge about AAPI mental health as a result of limited studies which have included individuals from AAPI Communities. “According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, serious mental illness (SMI) rose from 2.9 per cent (47,000) to 5.6 per cent (136,000) in AAPI people ages 18-25 between 2008 and 2018.” (

Many young Asian Americans do not seek professional help for their mental concern but rather they turn to their networks. Another thing we see is the lack of awareness for resources along with the still existing stigma around mental health within AAPI communities. This could be considered one of the biggest deterrents for seeking professional help. Other factors include cultural identity, faith, language barriers, and access to insurance and healthcare.

Firstly, as an ally allowing members of the AAPI communities to take charge in spaces and conversations relating to issues they are facing is a major facet of support. Lettings their voices to be the ones heard and amplifying them are good ways to start. Being mindful of language and phrases used when speaking about or addressing members of AAPI communities is also important. Ensuring that stigmatising or stereotypical words are not used and accepting correction can go a long way; again listen to what members of the communities are saying. Additionally don’t be afraid to reach out and show solidarity and support. Check-in and provide resources when you come across them. This goes back to the conversation about de-stigmatisation of mental health issues, show you care with a listening ear (if you have the bandwidth to do so!). Lastly, simply asking, “how can I support you” allow whoever it is to be in charge of the way they receive support. Do they need you to just be that listening ear? Do they just want a space to talk through things and need resources to do so? The answer only comes when you respect their dignity and ask.

For those seeking resources whether for themselves or others, here are some both on and off-campus.

Some resources at DePaul include the APIDA Cultural Center within the Office of Multicultural Student Success, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, and University Counselling services.

Off-campus, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum is focused is improving health among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association has a wealth of resources including a directory of mental health service providers for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders as does which is a directory of South Asian therapists of various heritages. The University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute partnered with the #IAMNOTAVIRUS campaign and the Asian American Literary Review to provide a Mental Health Workbook that includes literature, journals, and lots more resources to support Asian American mental health.

Wellness Wednesday: Sun Safety


In honor of Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month, this Wellness Wednesday will be catered to people of color because there is a lack of public health promotion and resources for people of color. Today’s focus is on physical wellness because as we know, the many facets of wellness, including physical health, that impact and relate to mental health. 

While Chicago’s summer weather continues to get hotter and hotter, we need to remember to stay safe while being out in the sun. Public health education and interventions that are being promoted today, especially on sun protection behaviors, are only targeting white individuals (Calderon et al., 2019). The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness at DePaul is here to change that and provide a holistic education that is inclusive to all, especially people of color.

It is reported that skin cancer incidence rates are lower for Black/African Americans and Hispanics compared to White people (U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group, 2017). Although it is uncommon for people of color to get skin cancer, BIPOC are often more likely to experience poorer and/or severe outcomes when it comes to skin cancer. Research also states that when people of color get skin cancer, it often appears delayed and at an advanced stage (Calderon et al., 2019).

This is an issue because BIPOC folks already have higher mortality and mortality rates compared to white folks. The causes of this health inequity are undetermined, but further research is being conducted.  We also want to acknowledge that are health inequities that are linked to poor health outcomes (National Academy of Sciences et al., 2017). However, one one-way BIPOC can prevent skin cancer is to engage in sun protection behaviors.

Individuals with darker skin complexions have some type of sun protection because of their melanin, however, they are still prone to developing skin diseases as they get older (Bradford, 2009). Caroline Robinson, M.D., who specializes in alopecia, preventative skin care, and ethnic skin dermatology, states that sun damage on darker skin tones can cause inflammation of the skin which can result in hyperpigmentation and/or acne (Denton-Hurst, 2020).  In conclusion, darker skin complexions need protection too.

Sun exposure is one the leading factors to skin diseases so, below are some sun safety tips for everyone, including BIPOC that the American Academy of Dermatology Association have provided:


  1. Seek shade if possible 
  2. Wear protective clothing
  3. Wear sunscreen that is water-resistant, have broad-spectrum protection, and have a sun protection factor.
    • For BIPOC, wear sunscreen that is SPF of 30 or greater. For white individuals, wear SPF at least 15 or greater.
    • Apply sunscreen to the bare skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors
    • When outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours and after sweating or after being getting out of a body of water
  1. Stay away from tanning beds and/or sunlamps. They can cause skin cancer due to the harmful UV rays.

As mentioned before, the purpose of this article is to shed a light on the health disparities, bring awareness to mental illnesses, and to stress the need to improve access to mental health treatment within underrepresented communities. Take Care DePaul by sharing this with another Blue Demon.


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Take Care DePaul!

Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month

“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.” -Bebe Moore Campbell 

The month of July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month (BIPOC MHAM). For this month, we want to honor Bebe Moore Campbell who made this all happen.

Bebe Moore Campbell (1950-2006) was a Black American author, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles, a national spokesperson, a journalist, teacher, and a mental health advocate who was passionate about learning, researching, and sharing the mental health needs of the Black community and underrepresented communities. At age 56, she passed away due to having brain cancer. To recognize her legacy and honor her, The U.S. House of Representatives designated July as “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.”

For this month, we also encourage you to participate in the BIPOC MHAM. It serves to shed a light on the health disparities, bring awareness to mental illnesses, and stress the need to improve access to mental health treatment within underrepresented communities, such as Black/African Americans.

For many centuries, BIPOC individuals have experienced trauma in all aspects of their lives. BIPOC individuals are less likely to have access to health services and receive care. There are also more likely to receive poor quality health services and to end health services prematurely.

We must #TakeCareDePaul by working with one another to dismantle systems that perpetuate discrimination, work against health equity, and places blame on BIPOC communities. Learn more at mhanational. org/july.

How Can You Support?

  • Research about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities
  • Spread awareness about the health disparities in Black, Indigenous and POC communities with your friends and family
  • Enhance public awareness of mental health and mental illness in BIPOC communities
  • Support BIPOC communities who do not have access to health care
    • Use and/or share Mental Health America’s Tools 2 Thrive, which is located in their toolkit, that serves to help better equip BIPOC communities to address their mental health.

Also, follow @HealthyDePaul and @OMSSdepaul on Instagram for more education and resources for this month.

For additional education and resources, please feel free to check out Mental Health America’s 2020 Campaign for BIPOC MHAM.  #BIPOCmentalhealthmonth

Take Care DePaul!

Wellness Wednesday – Mental Health

Mental Health. Why is it important? Why are you hearing so much about mental health these days? It’s relevant right now because this month, May, is Mental Health Awareness Month. So let’s talk about it!

What is mental health? Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. Mental wellbeing describes your mental state – how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. Our mental wellbeing is dynamic. If you have good mental wellbeing you are able to feel relatively confident in yourself and have positive self-esteem. Additionally, you can feel and express a range of emotions.

It’s also our ability to handle the many things that come our way. Our mental health is something that is not commonly talked about, and therefore seems to have a lot of grey area around the subject. This makes it even more important to be talked about. The stigma surrounding mental health has built a wall around the topic. Conversations on mental health would end before they even began. The code of silence was (and still sometimes is) real. Let’s work here to break down that wall. 

It’s important we start the conversation because maybe someone might never know that their mental health is connected to their physical health. That’s right; the correlation between an upset stomach and racing thoughts is valid! For many, it’s a relief to know that what they’re feeling is normal. For most, the only way to come to this realization is by talking about it and listening to others talk about it. 

Stressors in our lives will have a substantial impact on our mental health. As college students, we’re well accustomed to stress. I, for one, excel in the fine art of procrastination. I call it an art because the amount of finesse it takes to turn-in an assignment thirty seconds before the submission deadline is one that is is gained only through rigorous practice. I can confidently say this negatively affects my mental health. In our presentation, we talked about the stress curve. I’m sure I won’t be the first to admit that I often find myself in the “zone of delusion”. I may think that I’m doing my best work when in reality I’m not. This kind of stress may only be short-term, but that still is impacting my mental health, as mentioned.

We know that both short-term and long term stress will impact our mental health. If you’re familiar with Hope For The Day (a non-profit supporting proactive mental health awareness and suicide prevention), you might know a little about their soda bottle example. If none of this rings a bell for you, allow me to explain. Think of your mind like a bottle of soda. Stressors of the day, or the month, or the year, etc. all build pressure in our “soda bottle” mind. Without any relief, the pressure would build and we would explode. Think of that stage as a crisis stage requiring immediate intervention. We all have different thresholds. To alleviate some of this pressure we need to make use of “valves” – things that help us decompress and as the word suggests, valve! Personally, I find that making art or working out has become valuable ways to let off pressure in my soda bottle mind but it’s important to understand the actual act of self-care versus coping. They are close, though not identical. Coping strategies help us in the short-term. Long-term success is made easier when we develop healthy self-care strategies. Self-care and coping strategies work together to further improve our mental health and wellbeing. 

Self-care can do wonders in the short term but not every human struggle can be relieved with a simple act of self-care. Medically diagnosable disorders are more complex than just the average stressful day at the office. Biology plays a major role in mental health. A simple prescription can help balance the body’s natural chemicals when something may be off. There’s a common idea that taking medicine is weak. I’m here to tell you that’s the furthest thing from the truth. You’re not weak for taking an aspirin when you have a headache and you’re not weak for taking an anti-depressant when there’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. If we saw someone walking around with a broken ankle we wouldn’t tell them to shake it off; we’d get them professional medical care. We should be doing the same for mental health. I’m going to borrow a well-known phrase here, (another HFTD plug, sorry.) “It’s ok not to be ok.”

As always, all of us at Health Promotion & Wellness are here to support you and if you ever need anything, please, reach out. Our contact information is found on our website where you can set up an appointment or just give us a call and say “hey!”. Outside of DePaul Resources, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, but if you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency and in need of immediate help, dial 911. 

By breaking the silence we tear down the stigma surrounding mental health. Be proactive. Be productive. Start the conversation. 

You can view the corresponding Wellness Wednesday workshop video here!