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Rep. Chu Introduces Bill to End Mental Health Stigma in AAPI Community

May 25, 2017
Press Release

Today, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) reintroduced legislation to curb mental health stigma in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act, instructs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide outreach and education strategies for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community by partnering with local advocacy and behavioral health organizations that have an established record of serving AAPIs. These strategies will increase awareness of symptoms of mental illness common among AAPI populations, provide linguistically and culturally appropriate interventions, and encourage individuals and communities to use a comprehensive, public health approach when addressing mental and behavioral health.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, AAPIs are the least likely to seek out mental health services, contributing to the stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health disorders in the AAPI community. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“Among the incredible advances in healthcare has been a revolution in understanding and treatment of mental health issues. As a former clinical psychologist, I have seen firsthand how important mental health services can be. But still, too many in the AAPI community in particular suffer in silence, afraid to talk about a problem they don’t understand. This is exacerbated by the pervasive myth that AAPIs are a ‘model minority’ that do not suffer from mental and behavioral disorders. But it is imperative we help more Americans understand that healthcare includes mental health care. And just like you wouldn’t be expected to ignore a physical ailment like cancer, nor should you ignore mental and emotional ones like depression. This has to start with addressing the lack of accurate information about mental health conditions, symptoms, treatments, and support in communities and making sure that individuals who need help are aware of the resources available. This bill is a crucial step towards properly addressing this issue within our community and creating a dialogue about the importance of mental health. Through messaging and outreach that reflect the unique cultural and language needs of our community, we can save lives and get individuals the help they deserve.”

The text of the Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act, can be found here.