Written by: Sarah Chase
It is a fact that minorities are more likely to experience mental health issues, especially disorders, because they are more likely to be put in high risk situations. Nursing.usc.edu reported this fact on their blog titled “Understanding Barriers to Minority Mental Health Care”. Although minorities are the most affected, society still fails to make a safe place for every minority group to get help.
Carrie Zhang is the founder of the Asian Mental Health Project on instagram. Zhang struggles with PTSD and an anxiety disorder, so she soon experienced the lack of mental health care in the Asian communities. Zhang wants every person who struggles with mental health as an asian to be able to have a voice for their pain so that care can be given. Her main motivation for Asian Mental Health Project is to knock down the barriers that keep the Asain community from getting help.
“It is important to nurture platforms that talk about mental health, particularly for the Asian community because this is a topic that has been so highly stigmatized. Cultural stigma, financial barriers, intergenerational trauma, language barriers and more make it difficult to even talk about mental health, let alone go on the path of seeking care and healing. We believe in sharing stories and sharing resources so that people can feel empowered to find the care that is so needed,” Zhang said.
Zhang explains how a lack of knowledge in Asain communities is hindering mental growth. The reasoning can be found in the cultural boundaries that exist in the Asian community and the simple fact that they and many minority groups are treated as insignificant thus, making it harder to seek help from professionals. Fortunately the internet has provided more resources.
“A lot of it also stems from how "therapy" and "mental health" are not in the vocabulary of many Asian cultures. There are also deep inequities in healthcare, making it more difficult for marginalized folks to seek healthcare, particularly mental healthcare,” Zhang said. Recently however, with the internet and social media - it is easier to access this information and to find care. However, it is still difficult to navigate this information.
Zhang’s organization does not provide therapy for those struggling, but they do connect those to professionals who can provide therapy and other resources. Peer support is provided through their weekly wellness check ins and they want to make resources for self care, mental health and professionals easier to access.
“Our hope for this is to provide a safe space for people to unpack, as well as a place to explore different parts of health and mental health through professional support,” Zhang said. “We try to bring in a mental healthcare or general wellness/healthcare professional to co-facilitate.”
Zhang has been able to learn a lot since she started her program. She has learned to value not only her mental state, but the mental state of others as well.
“I am just a super passionate advocate,” Zhang said. So, speaking to different professionals, organizations and fellow passionate advocates has taught me a lot about the healthcare system as well as about my own mental health. It has also taught me a lot about effective community organizing.”
There are many minority mental health accounts out there to help those suffering and their main reminder to everyone is that no one is ever alone. There is always a pathway out of the darkness and Zhang wants that to be a constant reminder for everyone.
“I do not know if there is one important thing as I cannot speak for everyone! But it is important to know that you are not alone, you are not your mental health condition,” Zhang said. “Your feelings are valid and there is a way for you to heal.”