Strategies for Behavioral Health Organizations to Promote New Health Insurance Opportunities in AANHPI Communities

The US Department of Health and Human Services just released a series of documents on effective outreach strategies for African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans/Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.  NAAPIMHA is pleased to have taken the lead in developing the materials for AANHPI communities.  NAAPIMHA  would like to thank Dr. Rocco Cheng, Director of the API California Reducing Disparities Project,  Myron Quon, Executive Director of NAPAFASA as well as Juliet Bui and Larke Huang at SAMHSA for their input and guidance into this process.  NAAPIMHA will continue to work with its local, state, national and federal partners to advocate for improved health services that address mental health issues.  We are also interested in hearing about the impact of the Affordable Care Act is having on AANHPI communities.

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Immigration and Mental Health

Myths and Facts

  •  Myth: Jobs filled by immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, take away job opportunities for unemployed Americans
  •  Fact: Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native born workers. In addition, they create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers[i] [ii] [iii]
  • Myth: Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes
  • Fact: Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars each year in taxes, often for benefits they will never receive[iv]
  • Myth: Immigrants drive down the wages for American workers
  • Fact: Immigrants give a slight boost to the wages of most Americans by increasing their productivity and stimulating investment.[v]
  • Myth: Immigrants come to the US to take receive welfare benefits
  • Fact: Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal public benefit programs, and authorized immigrants face stringent eligibility restrictions.[vi]
  • Myth: Immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. natives.
  • Fact: Immigrants have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans. [vii] States with the highest immigration growth rates also have the lowest crime rates. [viii]


  • There is an increase of tighter restrictions on individuals wishing to live in the U.S.
  • Higher immigration requirements jeopardize the woman’s ability to qualify because they do not have the same opportunities for education and skilled jobs in their native country
  • Increased restrictions result in greater financial burden to pay both higher number and higher fees
  • Family members are often separated for years
  • Individuals are barred from receiving benefits for five years even though they pay taxes
  • Undocumented workers seeking employment are in the precarious position of being abused by their employer who threaten them with deportation if they file a complaint

 Asian American immigration[x]:

  • According to the 2010 Census, Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States with a 46% increase between 2000 and 2010.
  • There are 18.2 million Asian Americans who comprise 6% of the total US population
  • 60% are foreign born
  • The great diversity between Asian American subpopulations in levels of education and income is often masked when APIs are reported as a homogeneous population
  • Of the 11.6 million undocumented individuals, 1.4 are from Asian countries
  • It is estimated that close to half of all immigrants who are “illegal” came on a legal visa then let it expire, sometimes unaware that this had occurred. It is uncertain how many Asians fall into this category.

Mental Health issues:

  • Immigration is in and of itself an emotionally stressful situation, resulting in loss of status, trying to adjust to life in a new country and intergenerational conflict. Challenges faced by unfair policies and practices only contribute to the emotional turmoil for the immigrant Asian population.
  • The backlog of individuals wishing to immigrate results in years of separation between family members. Needless to say this creates tremendous emotional strain for the entire family. It also destroys the basic fabric of Asian cultures which relies on strong family ties.
  • The additional emotional strain to pay high fees to become citizens adds to an already stressful situation.
  • Ongoing stress can result in poorer performance at work or school and can negatively impact a person’s overall health.
  • The fear of deportation is a daily threat that can create serious emotional trauma. This holds true for those who are fully documented but may have family members who are not
  • Undocumented workers are at great risk for being abused by employers and feel they have no recourse to protect themselves.
  • Even those who are documented but have limited English proficiency are at risk of being abused by those who take advantage of their situation
  • While DREAM Act youth are being protected by this administration, they are still at risk for deportation because of those who are still see them as “illegal” and are working to have them removed.

[i] Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, From Brawn to Brains: How Immigration Works for America, 2010 Annual Report (Dallas, TX: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2010), p. 6-7, ar10b.pdf#page=3.

[ii] See Immigration Policy Center, The Economic Blame Game: U.S. Unemployment is Not Caused by Immigration (Washington, DC: American Immigration Council, November 19, 2009), <http://www.immigrationpolicy. org/sites/default/files/docs/Economic_Blame_ Game_111909_0.pdf>.

[iii] The White House, Economic Report of the President, February 2005, p. 107,

[iv] Social Security Administration, FY 2010 Performance and Accountability Report, November 2010, p. 178

[v] Giovanni Peri, Rethinking the Effects of Immigration on Wages: New Data and Analysis from 1990-2004 (Washington, DC: Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, October 2006), p. 6,

[vi] National Immigration Law Center, Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs (Washington, DC: October 2010), <

[vii] Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, UCR Data Online, < Crime/State/StatebyState.cfm>.

[viii] Richard Nadler, Immigration and the Wealth of States (Overland Park, KS: Americas Majority Foundation: January 2008), p. 9,




  • Analysis of Senate Immigration Reform Bill, Title II: Immigrant Visas. National Immigration Law Center. April 24, 2013
  • Asian Americans and Family-Sponsored Immigration, Asian American Justice Center Fact Sheet
  • AAJC Fact Sheet: White House Proposal for Immigration Reform, Asian American Justice Center
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
  • Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744), the bill. U.S. Senate. April 16, 2013
  • Immigration Alert: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). Morgan Lewis. April 19, 2013
  • Immigration: Myths and Facts. Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2011
  • Immigration Policy Reform Values and Goals. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
  • Outline of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). U.S. Senate. April 16, 2013
  • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. 42 USC 1305 note.
  • Reuniting Families. Asian American Justice Center.
  • Watson, T. Eliminating F3/married children and F4/sibling category in immigration reform?
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NAAPIMHA Partners with NAPA and Active Mind for AAPI Mental Health Awareness

NAAPIMHA, the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA), and Active Minds are excited to announce a new partnership to bring mental health education and awareness to Asian and Asian-American students on college campuses. Through the Friends DO Make a Difference initiative, collegiate chapters of NAPA will have access to programming and resources to promote mental health, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking in a community that may face cultural and language barriers when accessing treatment.

“We identified that mental health is a significant and unaddressed issue for many of our member organizations,” said Brian Gee, Executive Chair of NAPA. “We are excited to partner with two prominent organizations in the field of mental health to equip the collegiate leaders we represent with skills and knowledge needed to recognize and refer peers who might be struggling.”

“Research has shown that Asian students on campus with mental health problems are significantly less likely to be receiving treatment than their peers in other racial/ethnic groups,” said Sara Abelson, Senior Director of Programs at Active Minds. The Friends DO Make A Difference initiative aims to have NAPA members start a series of dialogues and activities on a range of topics, recognizing that mental health is a part of their everyday lives. NAPA chapters participating in the Friends DO Make a Difference initiative will train chapter officers and advisors to identify signs and symptoms of mental health concerns and host events with their membership to connect them to mental health resources on campus. Upon completion of mental health training and programming, chapters will be recognized with a Friends DO Make a Difference Seal of Distinction.

“The Friends campaign was designed to raise awareness of mental health among Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students. The hope is to make campuses a safe place to talk about key issues as students learn how to support each other. We are excited to work closely with NAPA and Active Minds to develop student leaders who will advocate on behalf of mental health,” said DJ Ida, Executive Director of NAAPIMHA. “By working with the next generation of leaders, we hope to reduce stigma and open positive dialogue about mental health for years to come.”

“We are excited to partner with NAPA and NAAPIMHA to reach an important and often underserved community of students when it comes to mental health awareness,” said Sara Abelson, Senior Director of Programs at Active Minds. The Friends DO Make a Difference initiative will support Active Minds’ mission to empower students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help seeking.
About the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association

About NAPA:

The National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA) is an association of collegiate fraternities and sororities with an interest in culture and serving the APIA community. The organization serves to advocate the needs of its member organizations and provides a forum to share ideas and resources within its members. NAPA supports the development of positive relations through open communication with interfraternal partners to enrich the fraternal experience. Learn more at

About Active Minds, Inc.

Active Minds is the young adult voice in mental health advocacy. By supporting a rapidly growing network of hundreds of student-led chapters at colleges and universities, Active Minds empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. Active Minds is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington D.C. Follow us on Twitter @Active_Minds. For more information visit:

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