In 1990, Congress declared the first week of October to be Mental Health Awareness Week; today marks the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week 2013. In honour of this week, here are the top 10 myths about Asian Americans and mental health that remain pervasive in our community.
1. Mental health isn’t an Asian American issue.
In several studies that specifically examine the incidence of suicide among Asian Americans have found a far greater incidence among Asian Americans than many other ethnic groups. Most notably,Asian American women at multiple ages have higher suicide rates than the national average. In particular, both elderly Asian American women (>65) and men (>85) have the highest suicide rates compared to non-Asians. Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for Asian Americans, (compared to 11th for the national population). These data strongly suggest a specific and under-addressed disparity in mental health awareness and treatment in the Asian American community.
2. Depression and mental illness is rare in the Asian American community.
Few studies have specifically examined the incidence of depression in the Asian American community, and those that have show some conflicting results, but in analysis of the National Latino and Asian American Survey, depression-related symptoms is reported in approximately 10% of Asian Americans. 15.9% of young Asian American women report suicidal thoughts (which is comparable to the national average).
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