July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness (NMMHA) Month—a practical time to highlight the importance of mental health for everyone. In a NIMHD Insights blog post, Dr. Xinzhi Zhang raised serious concerns about mental health awareness among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth and families. Suicide deaths have catapulted to the top as the leading cause of death for AAPI adolescents 12-19 years old in 2016. AAPI youth are the only racial/ethnic group for whom suicide is the leading cause of death, yet this is rarely discussed. The challenge of raising mental health awareness among AAPI communities is multifaceted but includes two key barriers: language issues and lack of culturally sensitive educators.
In response to this urgent challenge, the Healthy Mind Initiative (HMI) was established to create a collaboration across the federal, county, and community sectors with two intents. The first aim is to improve mental health literacy in AAPI communities. The second aim is to address the mental health stigma and cultural barriers to seeking mental health treatment faced by AAPI youth and communities.
The HMI is led by the Asian Pacific American Officers Committee (APAOC) of the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Montgomery County Health and Human Service’s Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and AAPI community organizations.
Population of focus: Asian American and Pacific Islander youth and families
Links to resource:
- Learn more about the Healthy Mind Initiative; how its unique partnerships position it to better address mental health in the AAPI community; and its key components for successful collaboration:
- Identifying a specific critical issue with partners who share a common vision
- Establishing specific roles for each partner
- Securing leadership buy-in of each partner
- Leveraging the existing resources from partners
- View the proclamation (pdf) from the Montgomery City Council in Maryland acknowledging HMI, declared on May 14, 2019 at the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville, MD by Councilmember Gabe Albornoz.
- Read the SAMHSA blog post Destigmatizing Mental Health in Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities, posted in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019.
- Explore AAPI Mental Health Resources
- Asian American Health Initiative resources webpage
- SAMHSA Behavioral Health Equity – Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) webpage
- SAMHSA AANHPI Snapshot of Behavioral Health Boys and Men issue brief (pdf)
- View Mental Health Resources
Date: 2018, updated 5/2019