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45 AAPI Addiction and Mental Health Resources
Statistically, Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have lower rates of substance abuse compared to the general U.S. population and other subgroups of the population. However, these numbers should not diminish the need for addiction and mental health resources in this community.
AAPI Addiction and Mental Health Statistics
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
- 8% of Asian Americans have a substance use disorder – compared to 7.4% among the total population.
- 6% of Asian Americans have an illicit drug disorder – compared to around 3.2% of the total population.
- The rate of alcohol use disorder among Asian Americans is significantly less than the rate of all other Americans.
- Rates of past-month and past-year drug use among Asian Americans are less than the rates among all other ethnic groups.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census estimates there were 19.3 million Asians living in the U.S. as of July 1, 2018. Based on the statistics above, that translates to nearly 1 million Asian Americans with a substance use disorder.
AAPI Overcoming Treatment Barriers
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that only 3.3% of Asian Americans who need substance abuse treatment get the treatment they need. Compared to the rest of the American population, Asian Americans are more than three times less likely to receive treatment.
Rates of mental health treatment are also low. AAPIs also have the lowest help-seeking rate of any racial/ethnic group. According to SAMHSA reports, only 23.3% of AAPI individuals with a mental illness received treatment in 2019.
It’s important to note that this population faces unique cultural and practical barriers to addiction treatment. Not only do these hurdles make it harder for AAPI individuals to get the help they need, but it could mean the reported numbers are lower than the actual rates of substance abuse and mental illness in the population.
For example, in this culture, seeking treatment from a therapist can be seen as weak or as disrespectful to the family unit. Other common barriers that make it challenging for the AAPI population to seek help include:
- Language barriers make it impossible for some Asian Americans to access services. (Nearly 1/3 of AAPIs are not fluent in English.)
- Discussing mental health and substance abuse issues is viewed as taboo in many Asian cultures.
- Asian-Americans are more likely to seek support from friends and family before turning to professionals for assistance with substance abuse issues.
- Asian Americans tend to deny or neglect signs or symptoms of mental health issues.
- There is a lack of awareness of the resources available.
In an effort to overcome this last hurdle in particular, following is an extensive list of the many addiction and mental health resources available. These resources provide culturally relevant support for Asian American Pacific Islanders.
AAPI Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment Resources
- SAMHSA: Organization that offers AAPI substance abuse information and resources. Resources include behavioral health resources and in-language resources.
- National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA): A non-profit that promotes substance abuse education, prevention, and support for Asian Americans. The organization is committed to social justice and health equity.
- The Asian American Drug Abuse Program: A non-profit that is dedicated to providing substance abuse services, including job-skill development and employment opportunities. Serves Asian Pacific Islanders and other under-served communities.
- The Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC): A non-profit that provides addiction recovery, mental health, and business development services for underserved diverse populations. Their mission is to improve the education and overall well-being of Asian, Pacific Islander, and other ethnic communities.
AAPI Mental Health Resources
- Asian American Psychological Association: An organization that works to advance the mental health of Asian American communities through policy, practice, and research.
- Asian American Suicide Prevention and Education: A non-profit that offers resources and support related to suicide prevention.
- Asian and Pacific Islander Health Forum: An advocacy group that strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian American and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.
- Asian Counseling and Referral Services: A non-profit that promotes the empowerment and well-being of Asian American Pacific Islanders by offering community-based multicultural services.
- Asians Do Therapy: A website that shares therapy success stories and strives to reduce the stigma of therapy in the Asian American community and increase accessibility of treatment to the Asian American population.
- Asian Mental Health Collective: A non-profit that works to de-stigmatize mental health within the Asian community. The organization aspires to make mental health accessible to Asian communities worldwide.
- Bridges: A mutual space for Asians, Pacific Islanders, and South Asian Americans to discuss and seek culturally-responsive mental health care.
- Mental Health America: A non-profit that offers information, prevention services, and resources on mental health trends in AAPI communities.
- Modern Health Circle Series: A forum that offers group sessions to address anti-Asian racism. Allows Asian Americans to share their stories and find community.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: An organization that offers resources for AAPI communities and statistics about AAPI mental health.
- National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA): An organization dedicated to raising awareness about mental health in the AAPI community and creating access to services.
- South Asian Sexual and Mental Health Alliance: An organization that covers topics including sexuality, mental health, and growing up in an immigrant culture with conflicting identities.
- The Asian American Health Initiative: An organization that offers an extensive library of mental health resources tailored to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- The Asian Mental Health Project: Educates the Asian American community about mental health care. Seeks to eliminate the stigma of mental health treatment and provide education, programming, events, and partnerships as resources available to all.
- The Fireweed Collective: An organization that offers mental health education and aid, focusing on the needs of the marginalized and seeking to disrupt abuse and oppression in the mental health system.
- Women of Color Network Inc.: This network addresses violence affecting communities of color including human trafficking and over-incarceration.
AAPI Organizations and Foundations
- Asian Women for Health: A nonprofit that strives to improve access to healthcare for Asian Women in America through education, advocacy, and support.
- Project Lotus: This project works to address mental health stigma and perception of care in Asian-American communities. It educates and empowers Asian-American communities to change the perception of mental health care.
- The Asian American Drug Abuse Program: An organization committed to providing quality and affordable substance abuse treatment for Asian Americans.
- Together Empowering Asian Minds: An organization that offers culturally relevant resources and support to de-stigmatize treatment for mental health issues.
- Womankind: A center that uses its Asian heritage to provide support and recovery resources for victims of gender-based violence.
AAPI Treatment Directories
- Asian Counseling and Referral Services: A service that works to promote the equality and inclusion of Asian American Pacific Islanders in America.
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: A resource that provides links and connections to therapists.
- South Asian Therapists: A directory of South Asian mental health professionals who offer services around the United States. Searchable by location, session type, and language.
AAPI Podcast Resources
- Feeling Asian: A society, culture, and comedy podcast that shares discussions about life as Asian Americans.
- Happy Asian Male Podcast: A weekly program covering a variety of issues, including Asian American mental health and wellness.
- Human Up: A weekly podcast offering insights into Asian American mental health from a man raised in America by an Asian family.
- Misfortune Cookies: A homemade podcast providing an open space for Asian Americans to share mental health struggles, process life’s misfortunes, and destigmatize conversations about mental health.
- Stories of Stigma – South Asian Mental Health: A podcast focused on improving mental health and wellness of South Asians by allowing South Asians to learn about and address mental health concerns.
- The Full Well Podcast: A weekly podcast offering open discussions about mental health and mental healthcare in Asian communities.
AAPI Social Media Influencers
- Asians for Mental Health: Highlights Asian American identity, mental health, and therapy options – run by Clinical Psychologist & speaker Jenny Wang, Ph.D.
- Mental Health CEO: Instagram feed that offers insights and tips from Ron Yap, a mental health coach.
- Reflections With a Therapist: Addresses mental challenges common to many Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
- The Mind Health Spot: Offers discussions of mental wellness with an emphasis on Asian Americans, – run by Clinical Psychology graduate Laura Lu.
- The Mind Spot: Offers discussions of racial trauma and emotional health, led by an Asian-American therapist.
AAPI Video Resources
- BTWF Talks/ Mental Health in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Communities: A discussion of mental health issues among AAPIs, featuring a mental health expert.
- I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype: An insightful Ted Talk about breaking stereotypes, given by an 18-year-old Asian American.
- Mental Illness in Stressful Times – An Asian-American Family’s Story: Dr. Richard Nakamura shares how he and his family coped with mental illness during challenging times for Japanese Americans.
AAPI Crisis Lines
- Asian LifeNet 24-Hour Hotline: Call 1-877-990-8585 – Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Fujianese are offered.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 – More than 150 languages offered.
2018 NSDUH detailed tables. (n.d.). CBHSQ Data. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-detailed-tables
Asian American. (n.d.). The Office of Minority Health. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=63
Spencer, M. S., Chen, J., Gee, G. C., Fabian, C. G., & Takeuchi, D. T. (2010). Discrimination and mental health–related service use in a national study of Asian Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12). https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.176321
U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: United States. (n.d.). United States Census Bureau QuickFacts. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/RHI425220#RHI425218