For some, the pressure of being part of a “model minority” stood in the way of treatment.
Many Asian Americans see themselves as part of a group that seamlessly integrated into their new society. They characterize themselves as intelligent, industrious, and fully in charge of their lives.
For many, admitting to “weakness” would be letting down the entire community.
“It’s easy to say that the reason Asian Americans don’t seek care is the way their culture stigmatizes mental illness,” says Liu. “That stance, though, ignores the role we all play in enhancing stigma by allowing dangerous stereotypes, like ‘model minority,’ to persist.”
Facing the Stigma
Underlying all these factors is mental health stigma.
Asian Americans fear being thought of as weak or “crazy” for having a psychological disorder—perhaps more than any other group. Shame and embarrassment force many to struggle in silence and never seek help.
Some Asian Americans have found ways to work around the stigma.
Most participants in the University of Maryland study reported they reached out to friends, relatives, and members of their church for support instead of contacting mental health professionals.
Another alternative for some Asian Americans is to seek medical help for a psychological problem.
Asking a medical doctor to address a racing heartbeat, insomnia, or constant headaches carries none of the shame of admitting to anxiety, depression, or addiction, even if a psychiatric disorder is the cause.