By Liana Shivers, VA Programs Manager
Photos & Media courtesy of AALEAD Staff
“They are too scared…”
“They don’t have the opportunity…”
“Maybe they don’t know they need help?”
The end of April is here and as we gear up for summer programs starting in June, we’re also wrapping up spring programs and final projects for the month of May which also happens to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.
Knowing that neither of those topics should be confined to one month a year, mental health especially as it relates to identity is an ongoing key issue for AALEAD. But in the context of a particularly intense time from COVID to the rise in anti-Asian violence and hate, youth experience the added challenge of navigating school and the constant changes and stressors that come with it:
To say the least, mental health spaces for AAPI youth are extremely important right now.
To do just that, AALEAD hosted facilitators from the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in cross-regional programs throughout April where youth learned about:
Some youth shared statements they’ve heard or experienced about mental health stigma:
Others shared messages people internalize:
One youth, after hearing someone name perfectionism as part of their experience and relating, asked:
And more youth shared reasons why we should all ask for help and share what we’re going through:
For youth, being empowered through ways they can be their own or each other’s advocates via spaces that cater to their identity specific experiences is critical. Just as critical as talking about mental health with friends, family, and community members to normalize experiences, engage in self help and as another youth said, “to see [that you’re] not alone.”
Feel free to check out and share some of the links below!
Special thank you to our staff and volunteer partners in collaboration at the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness!