WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Mental Health Day which is part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month and promotes awareness of mental health barriers unique to the AANHPI community. To commemorate the day, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it not only a rise in hate crimes against AANHPI people, but also a new awareness, and reliving, of the decades of discrimination against them. As we fight to end these racist attacks and move toward a more equitable society, we must also recognize the toll this trauma has taken on the mental health of the AANHPI community, and ensure they have the resources and support they need. This AANHPI Mental Health Day, we stand up to hate and the stigma around mental health and substance abuse disorders, and recommit ourselves to not just addressing the problem, but being part of the solution.” 

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, more Americans than ever are rallying around our community to help stop anti-Asian hate. But there is another long-term threat to the wellbeing of AAPI communities, and that is the lack of mental healthcare that meets the needs of the AANHPI community. Either because of stigma or the lack of linguistically and culturally appropriate care, many AAPIs neglect their mental health, and it has resulted in disproportionate rates of problems like suicide and depression. That is why, today and for the rest of Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s essential that we urge all AANHPIs to take care of their mental health just as they would their physical health.

“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to addressing the stigma, barriers, and disparities that keep the AAPI community from accessing quality and affordable behavioral health care, such as the need for translation services, or lack of access to health insurance. The AANHPI community is among the fastest growing and most diverse racial groups in the United States and yet only 23.3% of AANHPI adults with a mental illness were able to receive treatment in 2019. More alarmingly, suicide is leading cause of death for Asian or Pacific Islander youth ages 15-24. This is true of no other racial group in American. Now, more than ever, it is critical to destigmatize seeking help, and so let today be a call for our community and allies to advocate for health care policies that increase the accessibility of mental health care services.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“As we observe Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders Mental Health Awareness Day, we reflect upon the unique challenges the diverse AAPI communities battle and the work that lies ahead in combating disparities in mental health care. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, resulting in some of the highest rates of hospitalization during the pandemic compared to other health groups, and Asian Americans continue to battle the trauma of the spike in anti-Asian hate incidents. Due to cultural stigmas and systemic barriers of language access, AAPIs have some of the lowest help-seeking rates of any racial or ethnic group for mental health care. This is unacceptable and it must change. We must stand together to ensure that our community receives quality mental and physical healthcare.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“The AANHPI community has the lowest mental health help-seeking rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. This is driven by limited access to quality mental health treatment or cultural stigmas. Today we must recommit to eliminating systemic barriers and ending the stigmas that prevent the AANHPI community from seeking necessary healthcare. It’s important that we treat mental health seriously and prioritize seeking help when needed. In Congress, we will keep fighting to make mental healthcare more accessible for everyone in the AANHPI community.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip

“Today is AANHPI Mental Health Day, when we raise awareness about the mental health challenges facing members of the AANHPI community. This year has been incredibly difficult for Asian Americans, who have experienced heightened discrimination and hate after being wrongfully blamed for spreading COVID-19. Over the past year, 15% of the AAPI community, or more than 2.9 million people, reported having a mental illness. In addition, 1 in 3 Asian Americans fear threats or violence. Even before COVID-19, Asian Americans have been confronted with race-based stereotypes, including the ‘model minority’ myth and the perpetual foreigner stereotype. On top of that, knowledge of the mental health needs of AAPIs is limited as few epidemiological studies have even included Asian Americans. Language barriers and lack of awareness of the available resources also makes seeking treatment even more difficult. Today we recommit to breaking down the barriers to mental health care for AAPIs and work toward creating an America where no one lives in fear simply because of who they are or what they look like.”

Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), CAPAC Freshmen Representative:

“I’m proud to join my CAPAC colleagues in recognizing May 10th as National Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day, and raising awareness to this very important issue nationally. Our communities struggle daily with mental health wellness at alarmingly disproportionate rates. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, specifically, are less likely to receive the mental health services they need, including access to prescription medications. Today, we recognize the need to support those who are most vulnerable and increase accessibility to mental health service providers for all communities.”