By Sophia Barberini
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A mental health report by Stop AAPI Hate reveals that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced extreme racism as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, becoming more stressed by the hate they are facing than they are by protecting themselves from the pandemic.
According to the report, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAPI community reported lower levels of mental health issues and accessed less mental health services than other racial and ethnic group.
This, however, is not reflective of the mental health status of the AAPI community, as they are often forced into the model minority stereotype, creating reluctance to reach out to mental health services, according to the report.
The report reveals the findings of the Stop AAPI Hate Follow-Up Survey which reviewed the experiences of individuals who were the victims of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This survey found, “One in five Asian Americans who have experienced racism display racial trauma.”
Further, “respondents (71.7 percent) report[ed] anti-Asian discrimination to be their greatest source of stress, much higher than other pandemic concerns,” and 95.3 percent of respondents “report[ed] viewing the U.S. as more dangerous for Asian Americans.”
The survey also demonstrated an increase in depression, anxiety, and stress over mental health in the AAPI community.
This survey revealed that “Six out of 10 (62 percent) respondents indicated that they had directly experienced some form of active discrimination,” and, “Almost half of Asian Americans (46 percent) report anxiety during the pandemic, with 15 percent having depressive symptoms.”
Finally, the report highlighted the COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study (CARES). This study evaluated the ties between racism and mental health in the AAPI community.
This study illustrated that 68 percent of respondents “reported that they or their family members had experienced covert or overt discriminatory incidents during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This study also demonstrated, “During this pandemic, 1 in 3 Asian and Asian American young adults reported clinically elevated symptoms of depression and general anxiety, and 1 in 4 reported a PTSD diagnosis.”
Further, “Asian Americans reporting COVID-related discrimination were three times more likely to also report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to those who did not report discrimination.”
The study also relayed the experiences of some members of the AAPI community during the COVID-19 pandemic with verbal harassment, humiliation, workplace discrimination, and more.
For instance, a New York man recalled, “Three boys circled my friend, spat on her, called her slurs etc. She was about to burst into tears. She is scared to go to school now.”
“Asian Americans are experiencing unprecedented mental health issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-Asian hate – including increased anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms,” cited the report, adding, “These challenges place Asian Americans at greater risk for the development of long-term mental and physical health conditions.”
Given the hate the AAPI community is experiencing, the report highlights the importance of “recogniz[ing] and further prompt[ing] Asian Americans’ healing and resistance practices, such as reporting and seeking social and community support.”
Reporting, asserts the report, is extremely important for the AAPI community when attempting to “cope with hate incidents,” as “about 28 percent of Asian Americans who reported racial trauma after the hate incident no longer met criteria for race-based trauma after reporting.”
The Stop AAPI Hate Mental Health Report highlights the impact of hate on the AAPI community.
Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of creating space for the AAPI community to report their experiences with hate, as PTSD, anxiety, and depression invoked by racist experiences continue to harm the AAPI community.
Sophia Barberini, from San Mateo, CA, is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies and hopes to pursue a career in law.
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