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Rep. Chu and Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to End Mental Health Stigma in AAPI community

May 28, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C – Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) reintroduced the Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act, which would curb mental health stigma in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. This bill instructs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide outreach and education strategies for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community by partnering with local advocacy and behavioral health organizations that have an established record of serving AAPIs and ensures these strategies reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance abuse.

 

According to data collected by SAMHSA, AAPIs have the lowest help-seeking rate of any racial/ethnic group, with only 23.3% of AAPI adults with a mental illness receiving treatment in 2019. In 2020, an estimated 2.3 million AAPIs who meet criteria for a mental health problem did not receive necessary treatment. And, even though suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, it is the leading cause of death for Asian or Pacific Islander youth ages 15-24.  Rep. Chu is joined by Representative Grace F. Napolitano (CA-332) in introducing this bill.

 

“For far too long, stigma and other systemic barriers to accessing mental health care and quality treatment have prevented AAPIs from receiving necessary mental health care,” said Congresswoman Chu“The COVID pandemic has disproportionately burdened many AAPI communities and exposed the significant mental health inequity the community faces. And, the horrifying rise in racism and violence targeting Asian Americans have placed an unnecessary burden on their safety and wellbeing. From March 2020 to March 2021, Stop AAPI Hate documented over 6,600 incidents of hate against the Asian American community and nationwide hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked over 150% in 2020. Despite what a difficult year it has been, the AAPI community has shown incredible resilience and courage throughout our nation. That is why I am so proud to reintroduce the Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act during Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This bill will properly address this issue within our community and create community discourse on the importance of mental health while combating cultural stigma. Through highly trusted messengers and culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach, we can save lives and get individuals the help they need.”

 

“For far too long mental health has been a taboo topic of discussion among families, especially within the AAPI community,” Congresswoman Napolitano said. “We must overcome this fear, shame, and stigma with outreach, education, and open dialogue, sending a clear message that it is always okay to ask for help. I am proud to again partner with Congresswoman Chu to raise the visibility and awareness of the needs of the AAPI community, as we work together to bridge gaps in access to and availability of life-saving mental health services for all Asian Americans.”

 

Organizational Endorsements

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA): “The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, NAAPIMHA, is in strong support of the Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act.  This bill will provide much needed resources for AANHPI serving community based behavioral health organizations that play a key role in reducing the stigma associated with mental health by providing culturally responsive services.”

 

Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA): “The Asian American Psychological Association endorses the Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act. As an organization whose mission focuses on advancing the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities, we are hopeful that the bill will alleviate the barriers associated with stigma associated with mental health by increasing resources and access to culturally competent mental health services.”

 

Change Matrix: “Change Matrix recognizes the mental health stigma that exists in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and strongly supports the ‘Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act.’ AANHPI serving advocacy and behavioral organizations have trusted relationships and knowledge of culturally responsive strategies that work in their communities. This bill is an important step to directing much needed resources to these communities.”

 

Rise Now: “Joy is the most radical form of rebellion. The AAPI community is in critical need of mental health resources now more than ever. Science has shown the impact racial trauma has on an individual’s health and how it manifests in generations to come. True healing as a nation requires healing of all our people. As we look towards a more justice and equitable society, this must include health outcomes. I’m proud to support the ‘End Mental Health Stigma in AAPI Community’ bill as a start to addressing the mental health needs of my community.”

 

ACE NextGen: “As an organization that represents and advocates for AAPI business-owners and entrepreneurs, ACE NextGen recognizes the importance of mental health awareness and the stigma attached to it. We are not only entrepreneurs and innovators, we are also parents and caregivers to loved ones with mental health disabilities. Mental health and substance abuse support ensures a healthier market place overall. That is why we need resources outlined in the amendment bill to pass and to be fully realized and implemented.”

 

Bazelon Center for Mental Health: “We applaud Representative Chu for bringing attention to the need for improvement in how our mental health systems serve the AAPI community.  This issue is far too often overlooked and we need to do much better.”