Background of Mental Health

Everyone can struggle with mental health issues, and every individual has a different experience when it comes to mental health. Within the Asian community, there are certain stigmas that arise from receiving help for mental health issues and experiencing poor mental health in general; a lot of this stigma is rooted in their families. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are actually three times less likely than white people to obtain assistance with their mental health, yet 7.7 million Asian American adults struggle with their mental health. Many families find that seeking help and acknowledging an existing mental illness to be shameful and a disgrace to the family name. However, poor mental health is something to be taken very seriously, and when left untreated can lead to deteriorating mental conditions and fatal consequences.

Barrier to Treatment

73.1% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States have not had treatment for mental illness while 56.7% of the American population hasn’t either. Many times, Asian Americans are not able to receive treatment for mental illnesses because of discriminatory factors and other barriers that make the whole process more difficult. About 1 in 2 Asian Americans struggle with understanding and speaking English, and 32.6% do not speak English fluently. Being able to communicate with others plays a large role in the treatment process, and it is very difficult to help someone with a mental illness when they fail to understand you or vise versa. Because of this, treatment is not as accessible and therefore will not be able to assist Asian Americans with their struggles.

Parental Pressure

There is immense pressure surrounding Asian teenagers and students from their parents, peers and society alike. Parents tend to set high academic expectations and focus on their children meeting and/or exceeding them. This can cause a build up of stress and anxiety, as constantly being stressed takes a major toll on your body— especially for teens. It also doesn’t help that society has the stereotype engraved into their minds that Asians are the most intelligent. They are held to the “model minority” standard by those around them which leads to an excessive amount of pressure as a lot is expected from them.

Suicidal Thoughts

There are many factors that contribute to one having suicidal thoughts, and poor mental health is one of the bigger ones. Suicide and teen suicide especially, have been major issues in the United States and are continuously getting worse. The leading cause of death in 2017 was suicide for Asian American and Pacific Islander teens ages 12 -19. Female Asian American high schoolers were 20% more likely to make a suicide attempt than white female students of the same age. Suicidal thoughts can start to form in a person’s head when they start to feel extremely depressed and overwhelmed that they feel the only way they can get rid of all of it is by committing suicide. It is extremely important to be aware of the mental health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and take their situations seriously as suicide numbers and cases left untreated increase at a faster pace. Making mental health treatment more accessible and acceptable for Asian Americans can help create a more welcoming society moving forward.

Hotlines to Call for Help

  • Specialized drug and alcohol addiction treatment, from Rise Up Recovery, 1-855-285-4563
  • Families facing mental and/or substance use disorders, from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1-800-662-4357
  • Suicidal prevention, from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255
  • Information about mental illness treatment and support Groups, from The National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1-800-950-6264
  • Communicate with people about mental health Issues, from National Institute of Mental Health, 1-866-615-6464
  • For LGBTQ+ youth, from Trevor Project Hotline, 1-866-488-7386
  • For youth suffering from child abuse, Child Help USA National Hotline, 1-800-422-4453
  • Concerns about dating relationships for teens, National Teen Dating Violence Hotline, 1-866-331-9474
  • For gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, from GLBT Hotline, 1-888-843-4564
  • For youth, from YouthLine, 1-877-968-8491
  • For transgender, from Trans Lifeline, 1-877-565-8860Crisis and emotional support, from The Samaritans, 1-212-673-3000, New York only

Hotlines to Text for Help

  • Specialized crisis counselors that provide services and support to those who are upset, scared, frustrated, from Crisis Text Line, text CONNECT to 741741
  • For youth, from YouthLine, text teen2teen to 839863
  • For LGBTQ+ youth, from Trevor Project Hotline, text START to 678678


  • American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,
  • “Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health.” Mental Health America,
  • “Asian-Americans.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA,
  • “FastStats - Adolescent Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 May 2017,