are often referred to as a “model minority” in the U.S. Asians are perceived to
be intelligent, successful, and hardworking minority group setting the example
for achieving the “American dream”.
this perception carries some truth or not, these “positive stereotypes” accompany
Asian-Americans from their childhood. Asian-American students are expected to
excel in academics and the Asian parents have the reputations of making sure
that their children meet those standards.
a virtue of self-determination and work ethic held to its highest standard,
mental distress or mental illness has no room for discussion in Asian-American families.
Depression or suicidal ideation is viewed as a sign of weakness and lack of discipline
amongst Asian-Americans despite the startling number of people that suffer from
serious mental illnesses.
to American Psychological Association (APA), suicide was the second-leading
cause of death for Asian-Americans between the age of 15 and 34. Also, Asian-American
women born in the U.S. had the highest rate of suicidal thoughts in comparison
to general U.S. population.
provided by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention point out that the suicide
rate for Asians/Pacific Islanders has been steadily increasing since 2013.
topic of suicide and depression is rarely discussed in Asian-American families.
Experts say many Asian families are reluctant to disclose feelings of mental
distress or seek help because they correlate mental illness with shame. National
Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) found that Asian Americans are three
times less likely to seek professional help than the whites despite having
17.30 percent overall lifetime rate of psychiatric disorder(s).
to MaJosé Carrasco, a director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “A
lot of Asians avoid seeking treatment until the disease is advanced.”
addition, even when they reach out for professional help including medication
and psychotherapy, patients are skeptical of psychotherapy as they believe it is
designed for white Americans according to Associate Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm
of Boston University School of Social Work.
found that Asian-American college students have had suicidal thoughts and attempted
suicides more than their white peers. NLAAS reported that one of the main sources
of mental distress for Asian-American students is the pressure of academic achievements
brought by their parents.
rising rate of suicide and depression is not limited to young Asian-American
students. In 2007, Asian-American women between the ages of 65 and 84 had the
highest suicide rate among all racial backgrounds.
According to a mental health report by Palo
Alto University, “Help-seeking and service utilization is lower than their
representation in the U.S. population… and future research is needed to gain
insights into the within-group differences among Asian Americans, cultural
expressions of psychopathology, the quantification of cultural reporting
biases, and innovative cultural treatments to increase service access.” The
report also notes that lower utilization of mental health services does not
infer lower need for the services in Asian-American families.