A Collective Focus on Behavioral Health in the AAPI Community

Federal and community experts convene at the AAPI Behavioral Health Forum, May 9, 2014.

Federal and community experts convene at the AAPI Behavioral Health Forum, May 9, 2014. (by Darren Shim)

How do we begin to address behavioral health issues within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities compounded with the need for cultural sensitivity and access to resources? This was the crux of a recent dialogue between community organizations and federal officials involved in advancing the behavioral health of the AAPI community.

During last month’s AAPI Behavioral Health Forum, a Vietnamese woman shared her story of cross-generational trauma, stemming from tragedies experienced during the Vietnam War; a third generation Japanese-American woman described her lack of a sense of belonging associated with her schizophrenia; another Japanese-American woman reflected on her family’s need to deny the cause of death when her cousin died by suicide. These stories were a sobering reminder of the challenges associated with the lived experiences of AAPI individuals, families, and communities with mental and/or substance use disorders.

Throughout the day, federal and community experts discussed current efforts to elevate AAPI behavioral health issues in communities across America and advance behavioral health equity. Forum participants assessed the questions, challenges, and opportunities for each of the four issue areas – data, integrated care, workforce development and community engagement. While exploring these issue areas, participants thought critically about possible next steps to build and strengthen efforts to improve AAPI behavioral health and serve the AAPI community in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.

SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity looks forward to building on the momentum from this forum and continuing to work closely with federal and community partners in ensuring that AAPIs contribute to and thrive in healthy communities.

Additional resources related to AAPI behavioral health:

For more information about the federal agencies involved in the AAPI Behavioral Health Forum, visit:

Juliet Bui is a Public Health Analyst in the Office of Behavioral Health Equity at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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