Honoring AAPI Mental Health Awareness Month
Updated: May 30
Hello! We are the founders of Blooming Wellness Psychotherapy, and this blog is dedicated to our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. As psychologists and fellow AAPI members, we have the privilege of seeing and experiencing the struggles that plague our community when it comes to mental health. Mental health is still not seen by many in our community as a valid concern. Oftentimes, being invalidated, minimized, suppressed, or not being seen for our full selves, including our mental health, can create more internal pain. Yet, our struggles are very real, and ignoring our struggles does not make them go away.
Your lived experiences are valid as well as worthy of being heard and seen. The AAPI umbrella is beautifully diverse with unique immigration history and struggles; each person has their own story. The information we share in today’s blog are reflective of our professional experiences as Asian American mental health providers, who specialize in working with East/Southeast Asian Americans clients residing in California.
Reasons Clients Have Reached Out to Us for Therapy
Growing up in a culture that does not give space to mental health and/or emotions, we can misjudge the severity of our mental health concerns. It is common for folks to come into session saying they don’t have much to talk about, and yet they are struggling. It’s hard to be objective about our own lived experiences, so we often see folks as adults grappling with what was perceived as “normal” in childhood, which can be seen by others as trauma, depression, anxiety, and/or other mental health concerns. This can affect our mental health since it can change how we interact with ourselves/our lives, our relationships, and the world. Sometimes, it takes an outsider or a mental health professional to call out how they were treated was not “normal” or even healthy. Taking a step back and seeing the full picture of how we came to be the person we are is rather complex and takes time.
Below are common reasons clients have reached out to us for therapy:
Challenges growing up in an immigrant family
Conflicting Asian and American cultural values
Misunderstood/invalidation of mental health concerns (e.g. depression, anxiety, addiction)
Alexithymia (i.e., difficulty identifying emotions in self and others)
Family’s immigration story/history
Pursuit of the “American Dream” (e.g. consequences, including overworking or failing their version of the dream)
Not speaking the family’s native language
Community-oriented vs. individualistic pursuits
Communication and value differences between generations
Differences in life choices
Intersection of identities (e.g., Asian American and part of LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent, highly sensitive, or ability status)
Different communication styles (e.g., challenges with assertiveness)
Unhealthy relationships (e.g., codependency)
Trauma passed down from family members (from within family or native country)
History of abuse
Most individuals can benefit from therapy. There are many reasons as to why people come to therapy, so if your reason is not listed above, that is okay. The list is not comprehensive. Again, each person has their own story/lived experience, so their struggles may be different as well.
If you are interested in connecting with our Asian American therapists, feel free to contact us here for our mental health services.
Stay tuned for our next blog about the common symptoms Asian Americans seek therapy for.
Written and Edited by Elena Duong, Psy.D. and Susanna La, Ph.D.