Denver, Colorado, May 16, 2016. May is both Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of this double celebration, the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, NAAPIMHA, would like to recognize the importance of both events. NAAPIMHA firmly believes that respecting our cultural heritage is critical to the emotional wellbeing of our communities. Mental health is also a part of our everyday lives. It is impacted by how we see ourselves and are seen by others. Immigration, fair housing, gainful employment, quality education, equal pay for equal work are mental health issues. Discrimination whether based on racism, xenophobia, sexism, lack of respect for differences in sexual orientation, religious beliefs or the stigma surrounding mental health problems all have a negative impact on the emotional wellbeing of our community and should not be tolerated. This month is an opportunity for each of us to look at ways we can improve the mental health of AANHPIs in all parts of the country.
Many AANHPIs have experienced severe trauma resulting in increased levels of post- traumatic stress disorder, depression and thoughts of suicide. For some, the problems may be relatively short lived. For others, the problems can be quite severe. Whether a person experiences minor depression or is diagnosed with schizophrenia, major depression or bi-polar disorders it is important to remember that people can and do get better and seeking help is not a sign of weakness. The greatest tragedy is not in experiencing a mental health problem but lies in not being able to get the help when it is needed.
Mental Health is also finding the joy in embracing our cultural heritage, of being proud of who we are, and celebrating our differences and the things that make us unique. It is recognizing that we all have something to offer regardless of our cultural heritage, languages spoken, our place of birth, our sexual orientation, social economic status or religious belief.
Please join NAAPIMHA in celebrating API Heritage and Mental Health Awareness month. We will be posting follow up information on ways to get involved and upcoming mental health legislation for AANPHIs.
The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, NAAPIMHA, joins its fellow National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) organizations and countless others who are united in the fight against rising anti-Muslim hate. Recent events give those who are at best ignorant and more often than not, those who hold racist and bigoted ideology, an excuse to act against Muslim, Sikh, Arab and South Asian American communities. To take action against an entire group of people in the guise of “protecting this country” and claims of patriotism actually work against the very values of what this country should stand for.
Negative rhetoric only serves to create an atmosphere of intolerance resulting in increased acts of violence, both physical and emotional. No community should have to worry about their safety, wonder if they are being viewed with suspicion, fear that their children will be taunted and called names or worse. Unfortunately, this is not the first time an Asian American community has been singled out for racist actions. One of the most infamous pieces of legislation passed in this country, which was later deemed to be unconstitutional, was Executive Order 9066. It forcibly removed 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated them in detention camps on US soil. It reflected the historical anti-Asian sentiment which sadly persists to this day.
A call for similar action against the Muslim, Sikh, Arab and South Asian American communities was raised within hours of the attacks on 9/11 and is once again rearing its ugly head in light of recent events. There is no question that what happened in Paris and San Bernadino was tragic and cannot be allowed to happen again but to think that banning all Muslims from entering this country or taking similar action is the answer is not only short sighted and ill informed, it also fans the flame of hatred which only makes the situation worse.
It is imperative that each of us works to find realistic and credible solutions, not simple platitudes that only serve those who truly do not respect nor value the diversity that adds so much to this country. If we do not defend the rights of others, we only serve to erode the rights for all.