see .pdf version here
Date: June 3, 2021
We, the Asian American Psychological Association, write this statement in adamant support of Naomi Osaka’s decision to not appear before international media during the French Open in order to preserve her mental health. Osaka risked her professional career and her income with this decision to advocate for her personal mental health and that of her fellow athletes, especially in the face of toxic and oppressive workplace policies. As a biracial Black and Japanese woman, she has previously and continues to face racism and sexism from the media, both at home and on the world stage. Her openness about her mental health draws attention to mental health conditions that are experienced by many people. There are an estimated 41.5% of adults in the U.S. who have had recent symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorder (CDC, 2021) and 62% of Asian Americans-alarmingly- report unmet mental health needs (Saw et al., 2021). Additionally, a 2016 study found that 30% of the female athletes surveyed reported symptoms of depression, and found symptoms of anxiety and eating disorders were unaddressed.
Osaka’s actions highlight the barriers that exist, even for highly successful professionals, to establish boundaries in order to protect their well-being and mental health. Women of color experience a complex intersection of racist and sexist experiences in the workplace, especially when they are treated as a token representative of a marginalized group. Being a racialized token in any context, and especially in highly visible positions, makes one especially vulnerable to experiencing racialized trauma on a regular basis. Osaka’s experience as a tennis professional mirrors this research. The penalty that Osaka has experienced by the French Open is, unfortunately, familiar to many people who are discouraged from setting boundaries in their workplaces and fear repercussions for making their mental health challenges public. It is these policies that reify societal stigmas associated with seeking mental health services. We applaud Osaka for standing up against workplace demands that are detrimental to her mental health and urge all employers to consider how workplace policies can actively harm or help the well-being of workers. Employers can support the mental health of employees by providing health insurance with good mental health coverage, as well as flexibility and accommodations to prioritize and support mental health.
We commend Osaka for modeling self-advocacy, self- and community-care. This is not the first time that she has used her platform to address important societal issues. She has openly supported Black Lives Matter, spoken out against anti-Asian racism, and worn face masks with the names of victims of police brutality during the US Open. We stand with her and ask the sports community and all workplaces to look at workplace culture, demands, and policies with an eye toward creating more inclusive and equitable environments that prioritize human wellness.
The primary mission of the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) is to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities through research, professional practice, education, and policy.
1 in 4 Project: https://www.1in4project.org/
- organization for student athletes that works to overcome shame associated with mental health in sports with a focus on self-advocacy
- foundation that provides resources for those coping with mental issues with a focus on community building
Athletes for Care: https://athletesforcare.org/?
- nonprofit by former pro athletes working to advocate for the health of athletes with mental illness
The Players’ Tribune Mental Health Awareness Collection: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/collections/mental-health-awareness
- A media outlet for pro athletes to post and share their stories related to mental health
- Noteable article: Dear Black Women by Las Vegas Ace’s A’ja Wilson
Mental Health Issues with Female Athletes:
- British Journal of Sports Medicine, 30 percent of surveyed female student-athletes showed signs of depression.
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Hotline 800-950-6264
- The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained and able to provide guidance.
As we close out Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, we are excited to share this press release and accompanying report AAPA released in partnership with Stop AAPI Hate. Infographic for NH/PI here. Infographic for AA/PI here.
Learn more about the study here
A joint report by Stop AAPI Hate, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Asian American Psychological Association finds Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by anti-Asian hate than the pandemic itself
May 27, 2021 — Today, Stop AAPI Hate, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Asian American Psychological Association released a new report on the unprecedented mental health concerns Asian Americans are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Anti-Asian Hate.
This report features the findings from three research projects that investigated the effects of anti-Asian racism on mental health among Asian Americans during the pandemic: (1) Stop AAPI Hate Follow-Up Survey (Saw et al.), (2) National Anti-Asian American Racism Study (Chuck Liu et al.), and (3) COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study (Cindy Liu & Hahm et al.) When considered together, these three projects shine a light on the impacts of racism and discrimination on the mental health of Asian Americans. While we honor the experiences of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) persons and communities, this report regretfully only focuses on Asian Americans’ experiences due to the small number of NHPI persons in the surveys.
Key findings from the Stop AAPI Hate Mental Health Report include:
- Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by anti-Asian hate than the pandemic itself (Saw et al.);
- One in five Asian Americans who have experienced racism display racial trauma, the psychological and emotional harm caused by racism (Saw et al.);
- After reporting, Asian Americans who have experienced racism have lower race-based traumatic stress (Saw et al.);
- Asian Americans who have experienced racism have heightened symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and physical symptoms (Chuck Liu et al.); and
- Experience of racism during COVID-19 is found to be more strongly associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms (Cindy Liu & Hahm et al.).
Before the pandemic, Asian Americans consistently displayed lower prevalence rates for serious psychological distress and lower rates of utilization of mental health treatment compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
“A couple of the most challenging obstacles Asian Americans face in seeking mental healthcare are overcoming the stigma around receiving help and having limited access to culturally competent therapists,” said Dr. Richelle Concepcion, president of the Asian American Psychological Association. “Marginalized groups within the Asian American community — including those who are undocumented, low-income, elderly and/or have a limited-English proficiency — face even greater barriers to receiving mental healthcare.”
The negative impacts of racism on mental health can be temporary and/or long-lasting — and in some cases, intergenerational.
“The long history of Asian Americans facing systemic racism and discrimination in the United States must not be forgotten,” said Dr. Cindy Liu, assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and research director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cross-Cultural Student Emotional Wellness. “It’s important to consider how the negative effects of COVID-19-related discrimination on the mental health of Asian Americans build on their previous experiences of discrimination.”
Policymakers must take action to support the mental and physical well-being of Asian Americans in the face of the pandemic and anti-AAPI hate.
“As we push to uncover new ways to improve the mental health of Asian Americans, it is key to recognize the mental health benefits of reporting a hate incident,” said Dr. Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. “The findings show that almost one-third of Asian Americans who reported racial trauma after a hate incident, no longer met the criteria for racial trauma after reporting to Stop AAPI Hate — suggesting that reporting can help Asian Americans cope with experiencing hate (Saw et al.)”
“It is important to honor and promote the ways in which Asian American communities remain resilient and support one another in collective healing and empowerment
as we consider the negative mental health impacts of racism on Asian Americans and advocate for more mental health resources for our communities,” said Dr. Anne Saw, who serves on the board of directors of the Asian American Psychological Association and is an associate professor of psychology at DePaul University.
“As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I have long championed the need for culturally and linguistically competent mental health care and funding for our community, which is more critical now than ever. This report proves the traumatizing mental health impacts of anti-Asian racism and gives legislators a roadmap that we can use to enact needed policy changes,” said Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27)
This report is just the beginning of Stop AAPI Hate’s commitment to supporting the mental health of the AAPI community. The coalition and its partners will be releasing specific policy recommendations and mental health resources in the near future.
The Stop AAPI Hate coalition encourages any member of the AAPI community who has experienced hate during the pandemic to report the incident at: https://stopaapihate.org/reportincident/.
Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition addressing anti-Asian racism across the U.S. The coalition was founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department. Between March 19, 2020 and March 31, 2021, Stop AAPI Hate has received 6,603 reported incidents of racism and discrimination targeting Asian Americans across the U.S. Visit stopaapihate.org.
The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) is a coalition of more than forty community-based organizations that serve and represent the 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the greater Los Angeles area, with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant, refugee and other vulnerable populations.
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) was founded in 1969 to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. Today, CAA is a progressive voice in and on behalf of the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial and social injustice.
SF State Asian American Studies (AAS) is the oldest and largest such academic program in the nation. Founded after the 1968-69 Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front student strike, it maintains the strike’s values of student activism, social justice, and community self-determination.