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Increasing Visibility of Asian Americans During COVID-19

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The month of May is both Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), which offers rare discourse around the intersection of Asian American communities and mental health. Especially as overt discrimination, racism, and violence have increased toward Asian communities and businesses, the mental health and well-being of our communities are critical during the time of Covid-19.

While racist rhetoric attempts to undermine the validity of Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans (APIDA) in the U.S., major news and media outlets seek to correct such narratives by highlighting the contributions of APIDA in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic. A growing series from NBC News features profiles of AAPI individuals on the frontlines from health care to grocers to delivery workers in celebration of APAHM. Feed Your Hospital, a 100% volunteer-run organization, delivers meals from Asian restaurants to healthcare workers in communities most impacted by the pandemic.

As the visibility of the Asian diaspora has increased through media and politics over recent years, unique and vastly diverse stories have bubbled up into the cultural zeitgeist. Seeing one’s own experience and likeness reflected in art and national discourse provides deep validation — the feeling of being seen.

Media companies and streaming services are celebrating diverse Asian American stories as well. This month, Refinery29 continues its annual series, Not Your Token Asian, featuring a wide array of stories from women speaking to different facets of the Asian American identity. Hulu’s homepage features the “Asian Stories” collection, highlighting films and TV shows from Asian creators, producers, and actors. Never Have I Ever, a show about an Indian-American teenager, held a weeks-long spot on Netflix’s Top 10 since its premiere, complementing other Asian-American films on the platform such as The Half of It and Tigertail.  

In the face of discrimination, isolation, and uncertainty, feeling connected albiet from a distance is essential to our mental and emotional well-being. Recognizing the nuanced and multi-hyphenate narratives in major media cultivates a sense of identity for oneself. Furthermore, it fosters a sense of recognition and community with those around us.

Amid the struggles caused by the pandemic, we seek to nourish ourselves through joyful, heartening stories both in news and fiction. Those of us with more resources and stability through this time may offer support as a way of feeling connected as well. In our home of New York City, people are sending hand-written notes along with hot meals to elderly Asian individuals through the organization Heart of Dinner. There are many ways of helping Asian communities throughout the U.S., and each day there are countless acts of love made by people in every neighborhood. 

To join the conversation and learn more about supporting APIDA communities, click here: #APAHM, #NotYourTokenAsian, #AAPI, #RacismIsAVirus

If you are in need of emotional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The Bridges Therapist Directory includes over 80 mental health clinicians based in NYC, who are offering remote therapy through the pandemic.

Bridges Co-Founder Christie Kim (she/her) is a psychotherapist who focuses on exploring culture, social roles, and identity within the therapy space. As a 2nd-generation Korean American woman, Christie seeks to create connection and healing in her work with women and individuals of color. By way of Teachers College, Columbia University, Christie currently works as a member of the Intuitive Healing Psychotherapy Practice.