Healthy Mind Initiative Addresses Mental Health of Asian American and Pacific Islander Youth

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

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Date: 2018, updated 5/2019