CAPAC Members Commemorate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day

May 10, 2021 Issues: Healthcare

WASHINGTON – Today is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Mental Health Day which is part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month and promotes awareness of mental health barriers unique to the AANHPI community. To commemorate the day, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:


CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, more Americans than ever are rallying around our community to help stop anti-Asian hate. But there is another long-term threat to the wellbeing of AAPI communities, and that is the lack of mental healthcare that meets the needs of the AANHPI community. Either because of stigma or the lack of linguistically and culturally appropriate care, many AAPIs neglect their mental health, and it has resulted in disproportionate rates of problems like suicide and depression. That is why, today and for the rest of Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s essential that we urge all AANHPIs to take care of their mental health just as they would their physical health.

“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to addressing the stigma, barriers, and disparities that keep the AAPI community from accessing quality and affordable behavioral health care, such as the need for translation services, or lack of access to health insurance. The AANHPI community is among the fastest growing and most diverse racial groups in the United States and yet only 23.3% of AANHPI adults with a mental illness were able to receive treatment in 2019. More alarmingly, suicide is leading cause of death for Asian or Pacific Islander youth ages 15-24. This is true of no other racial group in American. Now, more than ever, it is critical to destigmatize seeking help, and so let today be a call for our community and allies to advocate for health care policies that increase the accessibility of mental health care services.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“As we observe Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders Mental Health Awareness Day, we reflect upon the unique challenges the diverse AAPI communities battle and the work that lies ahead in combating disparities in mental health care. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, resulting in some of the highest rates of hospitalization during the pandemic compared to other health groups, and Asian Americans continue to battle the trauma of the spike in anti-Asian hate incidents. Due to cultural stigmas and systemic barriers of language access, AAPIs have some of the lowest help-seeking rates of any racial or ethnic group for mental health care. This is unacceptable and it must change. We must stand together to ensure that our community receives quality mental and physical healthcare.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“The AANHPI community has the lowest mental health help-seeking rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. This is driven by limited access to quality mental health treatment or cultural stigmas. Today we must recommit to eliminating systemic barriers and ending the stigmas that prevent the AANHPI community from seeking necessary healthcare. It’s important that we treat mental health seriously and prioritize seeking help when needed. In Congress, we will keep fighting to make mental healthcare more accessible for everyone in the AANHPI community.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip

“Today is AANHPI Mental Health Day, when we raise awareness about the mental health challenges facing members of the AANHPI community. This year has been incredibly difficult for Asian Americans, who have experienced heightened discrimination and hate after being wrongfully blamed for spreading COVID-19. Over the past year, 15% of the AAPI community, or more than 2.9 million people, reported having a mental illness. In addition, 1 in 3 Asian Americans fear threats or violence. Even before COVID-19, Asian Americans have been confronted with race-based stereotypes, including the ‘model minority’ myth and the perpetual foreigner stereotype. On top of that, knowledge of the mental health needs of AAPIs is limited as few epidemiological studies have even included Asian Americans. Language barriers and lack of awareness of the available resources also makes seeking treatment even more difficult. Today we recommit to breaking down the barriers to mental health care for AAPIs and work toward creating an America where no one lives in fear simply because of who they are or what they look like.”

Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), CAPAC Freshmen Representative:

“I’m proud to join my CAPAC colleagues in recognizing May 10th as National Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day, and raising awareness to this very important issue nationally. Our communities struggle daily with mental health wellness at alarmingly disproportionate rates. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, specifically, are less likely to receive the mental health services they need, including access to prescription medications. Today, we recognize the need to support those who are most vulnerable and increase accessibility to mental health service providers for all communities.”


CAPAC Executive Board Members


Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have some of the lowest utilization rates of mental health services in the country, and also face a wide range of economic, cultural, and social barriers that prevent them from accessing quality mental health services. Today, we acknowledge the progress we must make to address these barriers and the stigma that still exists in accessing mental health care, in addition to the mental health consequences of the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01):

COVID-19 affects us all, but our AANHPI communities more than others,” said Congressman Ed Case (HI-01). “In my Hawai‘i, with the highest percentage by far of AANHPI in the country, a February 2021 survey by our Department of Health confirmed that a solid majority said they had experienced some negative mental health conditions over the prior six months. In short, AANHPIs are not alone and should seek professional help when needed. Our American Rescue Plan, with $4 billion to support prevention of, and treatment for, mental health and substance abuse disorders, help all Americans including AANHPIs through this once-in-a-lifetime crisis.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“The horrific rise in targeted violence against members of the AANHPI community over the past year, coupled with perpetual stereotyping and traumatization, has shown how closely related systemic racism is with mental health challenges. Members of the AANHPI community are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to report mental health issues—a direct consequence of the structural barriers preventing access to services. Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity for us not only to reflect on the importance of care and empathy, it is a time for us to implement policies that improve quality and access to mental health services. When our policy priorities reflect compassion and confront hatred, then we will be able to end the stigma surrounding mental health.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):

“Nearly all of us have a friend, family member, or loved one who lives with a mental illness. That is why it is critical that we continue to break down barriers to care and work to end the stigma in our communities. Especially over the past year, members of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities have been challenged by both the pandemic and the rise in anti-AAPI racism. Now, more than ever, we must meet this moment with a comprehensive health care strategy that prioritizes our mental health and well-being. That is why it is crucial that we continue to raise awareness across the nation about the social injustice for care in the AAPI community and call for the resources and mental health infrastructure necessary to aid our recovery.”

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10):

“As we recognize National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Day, let us recommit to tackling health disparities in our community, ending the stigma surrounding mental health care, and supporting our friends, family and community members when they are in need. The past year has been incredibly difficult for members of the AAPI community. Not only have we endured a global pandemic, we’ve also faced a sickening rise in hate crimes and violence towards our friends, loved ones, and our elders. Our community has always been incredibly strong, resilient, and courageous and we will continue to support each other during this critical time.”


CAPAC Associate Members


Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it not only a rise in hate crimes against AANHPI people, but also a new awareness, and reliving, of the decades of discrimination against them. As we fight to end these racist attacks and move toward a more equitable society, we must also recognize the toll this trauma has taken on the mental health of the AANHPI community, and ensure they have the resources and support they need. This AANHPI Mental Health Day, we stand up to hate and the stigma around mental health and substance abuse disorders, and recommit ourselves to not just addressing the problem, but being part of the solution.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“I’m glad to join my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to recognize May 10 as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Mental Health Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an increased awareness about the mental health struggles that many Americans face, as well as the stigma, language and cultural barriers, and access issues that stand in the way of care. As we work to build a better mental health care system, I look forward to continuing my work with Nevada’s AAPI community to make compassionate, culturally-competent mental health care available to all.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12):

“On this Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Mental Health Awareness Day, we must confront the heightened stigma surrounding mental health in these communities. We must continue to raise awareness of available mental health resources and combat the dangerous stigma which deters too many from seeking professional help. We also must acknowledge how issues of immigration, housing, discrimination, and access to care have created additional barriers to overall wellness. To tackle these issues head on we need to support policies in Congress and our communities that ensure access to mental health care for all who need and want it.”

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):

“We have seen an unprecedented spike in Anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, which is threatening both the physical and mental health of the AAPI community. It's essential we equip providers with every tool they need to prevent a second pandemic -- a mental health pandemic -- from devastating our AAPI neighbors, including culturally-competent care.”