Asian American Communities

General Considerations and Risk factors

Asian Americans are a diverse group including individuals with varied ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. When exploring mental health concerns, key considerations include assessing the individual’s perception of mental health and interventions and their belief system.

  • Language barriers can also prevent Asian Americans from seeking care. Inquiring about native language and use of translator services are important considerations.

  • Discrimination:
    Over the last several months there has also been an increase in reports of discrimination as well as anti-Asian/AAPI rhetoric and hate. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans may be reticent to seek medical care for physical or mental health concerns for fear of exacerbating this discrimination. Asian Americans seek mental health treatment at lower rates while data shows that they experience similar rates of mental health concerns as non-Asian communities.

  • Mental illness stigma:
    Asian Americans may feel less comfortable talking about their emotions or may try to reason through difficult emotions rather than sharing them with others. There is often stigma around mental health diagnosis and treatment within the Asian Community. In addition, some communities may prefer non-Western interventions for mental health concerns including an emphasis on mind-body connection.

  • Immigration factors: The experiences of first generation vs second generation Asian Americans vary greatly and impact their mental health needs.

SCRIPTS Questions to help assess and intervene around mental health concerns

  • Culture & language: Ask the patient more about their specific Asian identity and culture (as there can be a sense of loss of identity under the broad ‘Asian’ category), and use the patient’s provided language (e.g., “Bengali” vs. “Asian”) which may require a translator.

  • Describe & define in their own words: (Based on DSM5 Cultural Formulation Interview)

    1. What does depression mean to you?

    2. Have you noticed any changes in your thoughts about yourself or the world?

  • Treatments:

    1. Are there non-Western interventions you have explored?

    2. Are there resources in your community to support you with coping?

  • Report hate incidents to the national Stop AAPI Hate campaign and to OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates hate incident reporting system.

  • Report Michigan incidents to the Michigan Department of Attorney General Hate Crimes Unit: Tel: 313-456-0200.


  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy:

    • Data supports the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Asian Americans to help in managing intense situations.