May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Anti-Asian racism unfortunately has a long and ugly history in the United States, and the recent COVID pandemic provoked a surge. As anti-Asian hate crimes spread throughout the country and Asian American communities fight for their rights of safety and dignity, it’s up to all of us to join forces against this growing threat and be allies. Plus, taking care of our community is important for both our individual and collective mental health.
The rise in Asian hate has had profound and deeply distressing effects on the mental health of individuals within the Asian community. This discrimination, often driven by misplaced anger and stereotypes, instills a persistent fear, leading to chronic stress and heightened anxiety. Many Asians and Asian-Americans report feelings of hyper-vigilance, constantly being on guard when in public, fearing potential verbal harassment or physical assaults. This chronic state of alertness can be mentally exhausting, and over time, can contribute to a myriad of mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, the constant barrage of negative stereotypes and xenophobic sentiments can erode an individual’s self-esteem, leading to feelings of isolation, otherness, and diminished self-worth.
In addition, the ripple effects of Asian hate can lead to a sense of cultural alienation and identity conflict. Many Asians and Asian-Americans grapple with the tension of striving to assimilate to avoid becoming targets of racist attacks, while also wanting to preserve and celebrate their rich cultural heritage. This internal conflict can exacerbate feelings of not belonging or being trapped between two worlds. Especially for younger generations, who are still forming their sense of self, such external pressures can amplify feelings of confusion, insecurity, and self-doubt. As a result, it’s crucial for society to recognize and combat the damaging mental health consequences of prejudice and discrimination towards the Asian American community.
Asian Americans and their allies alike must advocate for the world they want to live in. Here are three basic ways to help stem the tide of hate and prop up influential organizations:
- Report Hate Incidents: First and foremost, anti-Asian hate needs to be documented on a nationwide scale. If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of a hate crime, refer to these Hate Crime Resources prepared by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) to educate yourself on the relevant laws, protections, and reporting process. All anti-Asian hate incidents — including both crimes and bias incidents — should be reported to Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy collective that aggregates and reports on anti-Asian hate in America in an effort to more effectively advocate for racial justice and policy change.
- Donate: There are many ways to financially combat anti-Asian hate, on both a local and nationwide scale. The AAPI Community Fund’s GoFundMe campaign raises money for community-based organizations throughout the country, as does the CommUNITY Action Fund sponsored by the nonprofit advocacy group Hate Is A Virus. Check out the “Donate” section of the article linked below for even more ideas.
- Volunteer: Not everyone can support this movement financially, but there are still plenty of ways to help. Volunteering is an effective and free way to impact and directly work with those communities affected by hate. To find a nearby volunteer opportunity, check out this list of state-specific Asian American Organizations and reach out via their webpage. Even if there’s not a local organization in your area, you can still dedicate your time and energy to combating anti-Asian hate by participating in and sharing bystander intervention training initiatives.
Hate, violence and racial discrimination won’t be solved overnight, but there are many ways to start making a difference in local communities today. Report, donate, and volunteer to be a part of the change you want to see.
Diversus Health is a mental and behavioral healthcare organization that has been serving the Pikes Peak and tri-county area for over 145 years. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, call 719-572-6100 to begin the Same Day Access intake with one of our professional mental health providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, text ‘TALK’ to 38255, or visit our 24/7 walk-in crisis center at 115 S. Parkside Dr.