Mental health issues are widespread, affecting people of all backgrounds. However, certain cultural factors can exacerbate mental health stigma, creating barriers to seeking and receiving help. As a Chinese American, I recognize this is often the case in the Asian American community.

According to a study published in the Journal of Community Psychology, many Asian Americans endorse stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness (Sue, Cheng, Saad, & Chu, 2012). The researchers surveyed over 600 Chinese Americans, Vietnamese Americans, and Filipino Americans to assess their perceptions of mental health issues. The results indicated that these groups tend to hold negative views of people with mental illness, often seeing them as dangerous, unpredictable, and lacking self-discipline.

There are several cultural reasons why mental health stigma persists among Asian Americans. First, traditional Asian values tend to emphasize emotional self-control and family reputation over vulnerability and openness about personal struggles (Sue et al., 2012). Admitting to mental health challenges is seen as bringing shame upon the family. Additionally, the Western biomedical model of mental illness conflicts with the holistic understanding of health common in Asian cultures.

This stigma surrounding mental illness prevents many Asian Americans from seeking help. The desire to avoid shame leads to minimizing symptoms and ignoring problems. However, suppressing mental health issues can lead to more severe long-term consequences. Research shows that Asian Americans have higher suicide rates compared to the general population (Sue et al., 2012).

Reducing mental health stigma in the Asian American community requires greater awareness, education, and culturally sensitive services. Mental health outreach initiatives must resonate with Asian cultural values to encourage openness and help-seeking behaviors. With greater understanding and support, Asian Americans can feel empowered to access the mental health resources they need.

What are your thoughts and experiences on the topic of mental health stigma in the Asian American community? Please share your experiences below.


Sue, S., Cheng, J. K. Y., Saad, C. S., & Chu, J. P. (2012). Asian American mental health: A call to action. American Psychologist, 67(7), 532-544.