Facing the Shadows: Mental Health and the API Community

by Sunli Kim, ’15

Mental_HealthDuring May, API (Asian Pacific Islander) Heritage Month, the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee (SAAAC) will be hosting a month-long issues series on mental health in the API community context, titled Facing the Shadows: Mental Health and the API Community. The workshops are open to all interested students, regardless of ethnic background. Not only will we be covering specific issues within the realm of mental health, but also we hope to raise overall campus awareness of Stanford’s available resources and evaluate the effectiveness of those resources to accommodate minorities’ narratives and cultural differences.

Mental health has been and continues to be an understated, unaddressed issue. We seek not only to raise awareness and critically analyze the root causes of mental health issues, but also to encourage our communities to directly confront these issues by exploring how an individual’s cultural context and larger institutional systems, such as education and law, influence mental health and promote a culture of stigma and silence. The lack of conversation and open discourse about these issues and “dis-ability” further isolates people who are daily affected but are often subject to sensationalism or are separated from the implied “normal.” We hope to also briefly address the anti-ableist movement and hope that the issues series can be a stepping stone for spreading and increasing campus awareness.

We recognize the difficulty in attempting to encompass all cultural contexts. However, knowledge and awareness of those contexts play significant roles in affecting the mental health of our students. Thus, SAAAC would like to begin a conversation between Stanford students and various panelists, speakers, and students who have encountered mental health issues in the API community. We encourage all students to attend the events and also hope to form alliances with other groups on campus to raise cultural awareness in addressing physical and mental health. We would like to bring these issues to light in the Stanford community, where the reluctance to have open dialogue about mental health further stifles conversation in the API community.

Our series of workshops seek to shed light on the wide variety of racial, socioeconomic, and gendered contexts in which mental health issues manifest. We aim to critically evaluate the resources available to students on campus and offer culturally-sensitive and appropriate ways to address these concerns in the API community. Through education, advocacy, and support, we hope to stand in solidarity with the community by building coalitions and shifting the perspective on mental health on campus.

For more details on our upcoming workshop series, find dates and times below, and check out our flier and Facebook page.

Free food will be provided at all events! Join us every week as we begin to break the silence and taboo surrounding the topic of mental health that stands not only in the API community but also on campus in general.

Friday, May 3, A3C Couchroom
“Facing the Shadows: Mental Health and the API Community” Kick-off Mixer

Wednesday, May 8, A3C Couchroom
“Through the Looking Glass: Body Image Perceptions and Issues in the API Community”

Thursday, May 16, Women’s Community Center
“Aftershock: Mental Trauma and the Immigrant Experience”

Monday, May 20, El Centro Chicano Lounge
“Confront the Invisible: An Assessment of Stanford Resources”

Thursday, May 30, A3C Ballroom
“Facing the Shadows: Mental Health and the API Community” Closing Dinner


Sunli is a Sophomore involved with SAAAC, the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee.

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