I parked my car in the parking lot at the on-campus Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC). I sat there for a while, waiting. Staring into the dense greenery in the distance, I debated whether or not to even get out of my car. In the moment, I thought to myself, “I’m fine. I don’t need this.”
For the past few weeks, I struggled with anxiety and constantly felt distressed. I knew that I needed help, but felt afraid to reach out. Talking with my friends has helped me to an extent, but at the end of the day, I still felt unstable and not myself.
In case you were wondering, I did eventually get out of my car and walk through the doors into the CWC. Although I made an appointment in advance, my doubts continued to cloud my decision leading up to this point.
While inside the building, my feelings of nervousness began to calm down. I started to think that I made a right decision.
Talking with a counselor has helped me cope with my emotions and symptoms I was experiencing. My first time seeking professional help for mental health made me realize the importance of caring for my overall wellbeing.
Growing up, there simply was no discussion of mental health in school or at home. We are taught the importance of physical health, such as the health benefits of the food pyramid and being required to take P.E. class, but where is education surrounding mental health?
Why is it that I, and many others, have only become aware of the importance of mental health, mental health resources, and self-care since coming to college?
Our society’s ignorance towards mental health does not address the fact that nearly one in five American adults will experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
This ignorance drives an unhealthy stigma that may discourage people from seeking treatment, which can potentially impact the course of someone’s life.
It’s hard to openly talk about mental health with my parents. In my Asian American culture and being second generation, I am expected by my parents to be their golden child. After all they’ve sacrificed for me and given so much for me, the very notion of admitting that I have any form of mental illness would show that I am weak.
According to the American Psychological Association, Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than white Americans. Additionally, only 8.6 percent of Asian Americans seek any type of mental health service or resource, compared to almost 18 percent of the general population.
The pressure to conform to the model minority myth, insufficient understanding of mental illness within Asian cultures and lack of culturally-competent mental health professionals all contribute to the mental health stigma that many people within the Asian American community face.
The month of May is both National Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We need to take into consideration mental health awareness across diverse communities in order to increase better familiarity of mental health disorders and resources.
I’m celebrating this month by breaking the silence surrounding mental illness in my culture. Talking more about the subject hopefully inspires change and can remind any person that they’re not alone.
Please refer to these resources if you or a friend are ever in distress:
P: (352) 392-1575
P: 1 (800) 273-8255 or text “ANSWER” to 839863 if you prefer texting.
P: 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org if you prefer to chat online.