Two shootings in one week in California may have left him traumatized in his homeland, and he faces new challenges as he ages after building a new life in the US It highlights the complex mental health issues facing older Asian Americans.
Some Asian immigrants, especially first-generation immigrants from conflict areas, often arrive with trauma problems in their efforts to find jobs, housing, and communities, experts say.
Depression and loneliness are major problems for older retired immigrants, whose limited English proficiency limits the development of a social circle of friends and acquaintances. According to numerous studies, generational differences between immigrants and their children who are Native American or near-American create another layer of isolation for older immigrants.
Some Asian community leaders say more attention needs to be paid to the multifaceted mental health issues of older Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
Rep. Grace Meng tweeted, “I wonder how things would have been different with a strong mental health and social services network. Yes it was about gun safety laws and yes, It’s about stopping the hate in Asia, but it’s also the generation of #AAPI’ elders with lives of unaddressed trauma. ”
Sylvia Chan-Malik, associate professor in the Department of American and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, told VOA Mandarin that mental health problems among AAPI elders were often due to the fact that they were busy with work when they were younger. He said he was being neglected. After retirement, problems cannot be solved at work.
“You were always trying to work or achieve something and move forward, so you may have a lot of trauma and even depression and anxiety related issues that you never really dealt with,” Chan says. Malik said: No need to go to work, stay at home, be alone, feel depressed, sad or unhappy. ”
Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, said many older adults in the Asian American community struggle with the feeling of being financially burdened by their families.
“It’s very challenging, and in a society that emphasizes ‘production,’ the older you get, the less productive you are,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the virus first identified in China, and the subsequent hate crimes against Asians during this time, have increased the psychological and financial pressure on AAPI elders.
According to a 2021 report from the National Asia Pacific Center on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, 59% of Asian American Pacific Islanders believe the United States will be more dangerous for their ethnic group during the pandemic. It has become.
Chan-Malik noted that many AAPI elders, like other Americans, seek information online, and algorithms may push them with content that increases their sense of danger. bottom.
“They take a very partisan, very ideological approach to what’s going on in the world because they have YouTube feeds and things curated for them. The algorithm is just giving them more and more of the same perspective all the time.”
However, it can be difficult for older people with AAPI to receive effective mental health support. Part of this is due to the influence of Asian cultures that stigmatize mental health problems, experts say.
But in the United States, where only 27.7% of all mental health care needs are met, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, AAPI elders are more likely to seek help from family and friends than professional agencies.
According to a UCLA Medical Center report, “Because of an entrenched culture of collectivism and a traditional view of the body and mind as one, older Asians… [suppress or discount] Psychological or emotional symptoms often make it difficult to apply a psychiatric diagnosis based on Western views. ”
Other limitations in seeking timely treatment for mental health problems include limited or lack of health insurance, immigration status, and language preference.
reluctance to ask for help
Asian-American Pacific Islanders are the least likely to seek mental health services, compared to Americans of other ethnic backgrounds, three times less likely than whites, according to the U.S. Administration on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. 1.
Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the National Council on Aging, told VOA Mandarin that therapists who understand Asian languages are essential to providing better mental health treatment for older Asians. Language is not the only problem, she said.
“It’s not just language that can get at the bottom of what they’re going through, it can bring out what someone might be feeling,” Cameron said, adding that therapists use body language and other cues to It may be used to understand things that people cannot articulate clearly.
The January 21 mass shooting in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed and nine injured, brought new trauma to AAPI elders as it occurred at a friendly social gathering place, a popular Los Angeles-area dance hall. may have brought about. Community centers, dance halls, and churches are among the few environments where AAPI elders feel safe to express their feelings.
by new york timesThe ballroom in Monterey Park, where the filming took place, had a party almost every night, with more than 100 AAPI elders singing, dancing and socializing. celebration was held.
In another recent massacre, seven people died on two mushroom farms in the Half Moon Bay enclave in northern California.
Last May, an Asian man opened fire on a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Southern California, killing one and injuring five. One of them was hosting a welcome party for a pastor who had worked in Taiwan for two years.
Chan said his organization has been in discussions with federal officials about ways to increase security protections for the church since the church was shot last spring. The challenge is that protective measures can make his AAPI elders uncomfortable.
“When you start putting security guards, metal detectors and armed guards on the front line, eventually strangers who look like friends are viewed with far more suspicion because they look like threats. ‘He said.
After a series of mass shootings and years of collective trauma in the Asian-American community, Cameron worries that more older Asian-Americans don’t seek help or get proper treatment. increase.
“For some Asian Americans, the fear that something might happen prevents them from continuing to do what they want to do or bring joy into their lives.
Adrianna Zhang contributed to this report.
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