Depression Shouldn’t Be Shameful

For the past few months I’ve been researching and interviewing Asian American college students and mental health professionals for an article that was recently published by Pacific Standard. (If you don’t know their work, they cover a wide range of fascinating topics from science to health. And I’m not just saying that because I write for them.) My piece, The Dangerous Weight of Expectations, explores why depression and suicides are prevalent amongst Asian American college students.

Obviously, depression and mental health issues extend beyond the AA community, but I wanted to focus on why we don’t talk about these serious issues. It’s often seen as shameful to talk about your feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depressive thoughts. The suicide rates for AA students is quite alarming, as evidenced by Jenn Fang’s Reappropriate blog post detailing the Asian American student suicide rate at MIT, which is quadruple the national average. Her article was the spark that made me want to investigate further.

In the article, I talked with a mental health expert at Cornell, the director of the Asian American Activities Center at Stanford University, and two students—Reera Yoo, a former NYU student, and Annie Phan, a current student at Stanford— about why this is such a silent problem.

I applaud the efforts all of my interviewees to bring much-needed awareness surrounding depression and mental health care, especially Yoo and Phan. Their honesty about their own journeys through therapy and seeking help are an inspiration to younger AA students who may think that they are completely alone in their problems.

Depression affects everyone. Asking for help may seem scary, but it’s needed. You’re not alone.

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