On December 9, 2014 the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) held its second Young Leaders Dialogue (YLD) Google+ Hangout, focused on Mental Health. This is the second installment of a four part YLD series happening in conjunction with the E3! Ambassadors Program, comprised of young leaders across the nation committed to increasing opportunity and improving the quality of life for AAPIs. These E3! Ambassadors aim to “Educate, Engage and Empower” young leaders, by highlighting federal programs and resources for AAPIs around the issues of education, mental health, pathways to public service and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The first YLD on Education took place in October 2014.
During the recent YLD on Mental Health, Juliet Bui from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and DJ Ida from the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA) shared the barriers AAPIs face when dealing with mental health issues, the incredible wealth of resources that are available for addressing these issues, and the benefits of positive mental health. Federal resources like the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline (1‑877‑SAMHSA7) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) serve as valuable tools where callers can get general information on mental health and talk directly to trained crisis workers. In addition, speakers discussed the warning signs of people who may be considering suicide and how friends and family can create a safe, supportive space for the person to talk and how to make a referral to someone trained in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Above all, speakers highlighted that friends and family do make a difference and can raise awareness around mental health for AAPIs.
The YLD on Mental Health closed out the event series for 2014, and we look forward to opening the New Year with our YLD on Pathways to Public Service in February 2015. YLDs are a way for young leaders to learn about federal resources available around issues that affect them, and share their personal stories. Each dialogue features Administration officials, community leaders, and other experts on the topic and can provide valuable information to increase access and opportunity for young AAPIs.
To find ways to engage your community around these issues, check out our mental health toolkit, and stay tuned for our upcoming YLD on Pathways to Public Service in February 2015.
Jason Tengco is a Senior Advisor and Bessie Chan is an Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.