Asian American Association discusses mental health challenges

Some students said they felt that the MU administration needs to do more regarding mental health.

The Asian American Association addressed the issue of mental health for college students at their general body meeting Oct. 9.

In a 2012 survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6.9 percent of adults had suffered from depression within the past 12 months and 18.1 percent of adults had suffered from anxiety disorders, including phobias and PTSD.

“(Mental health) sounds like a problem, and people don’t like to talk about problems,” said Daphne Yu, MU sophomore and AAA external vice president.

Attendees were split into groups, and asked to give their own definitions for the term “mental health.”

Definitions ranged from “psychological and emotional stability” and a “mental state of balance” to simply “being happy.”

Later in the meeting, students were more confident with identifying truths and falsehoods about mental illness. Most were able to correctly reject the idea that discussing suicide encourages suicide attempts, and correctly affirmed that firearms in the United States are used in suicides more often than homicides.

Most students also correctly affirmed the statement that suicide was the number two killer for Asian-Americans ages 18-34, according to statistics from 2007 by the American Psychological Association.

Many, however, did not know that Asian-Americans are far less likely to report symptoms of depression — about two percent of Asian-Americans alert their doctor, far below the national average of 13 percent.

The meeting also focused on education.

“My overall goal is to help with the de-stigmatization of mental health issues in any and every community,” AAA Social Chair Tessa Miles said. “The stigma that surrounds these issues is a huge factor in why people don’t talk about it or seek help.”

Some said they felt the MU administration needs to do more.

“The university needs to have better resources or advertise the resources available for students with mental health issues,” said Brandon Spink, AAA internal vice president.

Spink, who himself has dealt with depression and ADD, said professors need more training on mental health.

“Rarely do professors understand what students may be going through on a daily basis,” he said. “They assume every student is the same.”

Spink and Miles led the activities and discussion during the meeting.

Those who attended appeared to find it helpful, and many said they had never discussed it much before.

“I never really knew how to go about it,” graduate student Kevin Guevara said.

Reflecting the past lack of discussion on mental health, especially within the Asian-American community, senior member Hong Truong said mental health is “a brand new topic this year.”

“I think that everyone just needs to realize that they are not alone in whatever they have to face,” Miles said. “Mental health issues are more common than they may think, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.”

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