Mental health is heavily stigmatized among Asian Americans, whose older generations, like the older generations of other cultures, tend to see therapy as undignified or a sign of weakness, experts said. But the pandemic and the specter of hate crimes by those who tied the coronavirus to China have prompted a growing number of Asian Americans to overcome the stigma and turn to therapy for help, according to more than a dozen therapists, psychiatrists and psychology professors.
“People were just stuck in their homes with their thoughts and their worries, and there wasn’t an outlet,” said Lia Huynh, a psychotherapist in Milpitas, Calif.
More than 40 percent of Asian Americans were anxious or depressed during the pandemic, up from less than 10 percent before the virus struck, according to the Asian American Psychological Association. The Kaiser Family Foundation found similar rates for all adult Americans, but experts said the figures for Asian Americans were most likely higher than reported because some Asian Americans are uncomfortable talking about mental health.
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, the fear of hate crimes hasn’t decreased for a quarter of Asian adults in the United States. They reported that, in the last few months, they still feared being threatened or physically attacked, according to a poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
For Jess Stowe, 35, and Terry Wei, 36, Covid was scary enough, but now they worried about being attacked.