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Mental health stigma in Asian communities

Reasons for Stigma in Asian American Communities

There is stigma in all communities around mental health, wellness, and being in therapy.  Asian Americans don't need to feel added shame that we have stigma around this! And, there are nuanced cultural reasons for the stigma in Asian communities. 

1. Avoidance of shame

  • Focus on saving face, maintain social status and public image 
  • Denial and dismissal that something might be wrong
  • Concerns about being labeled defective
  • Concerns about the future such as jobs and marriage prospects 

2. Prioritizing the family and the collective

  • The person’s condition reflects on everyone
  • Fear of tarnishing family’s name and reputation
  • Keep issues within family
  • Not burdening others with issues
  • Pressures to conform and keep the harmony 
  • Unconditional loyalty to family. Not wanting to talk poorly about parents / family

3. Religious and spiritual beliefs

  • Mental illness might be seen as divine punishment
  • Person might be seen as evil or possessed

4. Incongruence between identity and mental health condition and needs

  • We, _____________ , don’t have these issues. It’s a white, European problem.
  • Pressures to uphold the model minority myth
  • Don't want to dwell in the past or on  gloomy / morbid thoughts
  • Favoring self-reliance as opposed to outsider support

5. Lack of information or misinformation

  • Mental illness is perceived to be caused by negligence or irresponsible behavior
  • Accusations of the person being lazy, spoiled, lacking motivation
  • Mental health services and therapy are new concepts


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