5 Tips for Mental Health Issues Asian Immigrants are Facing

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a rise in anti-Asian hate across North America. Asians, like individuals from any other ethnic or cultural group, can experience a range of mental health issues. However, a study conducted in the U.S reports that only 2.2% of first-generation Asian Americans and 3.5% of second-generation Asian Americans seek mental health services. Certain factors, such as cultural influences, social pressures, and access to mental health resources, may contribute to unique experiences within Asian immigrant communities. This article discusses 5 mental health issues Asian immigrants experience and tips for how to respond to the issues.

1) Stigma and Cultural Barriers

Mental health stigma remains a significant challenge in many Asian cultures. Seeking help for mental health issues can be perceived as a sign of weakness or shame, which may prevent individuals from seeking treatment or support. Stigma prevents 40% of Canadians with anxiety or depression from getting medical help. 

Challenge the stigma and be an advocate for mental health within your community to bring awareness to people. Share your knowledge and experience with mental health to reduce the stigma and engage in conversations to encourage other people to speak about their experience and not be afraid to look for help. 

2) Acculturation and Identity Issues

Asians who have immigrated to Canada often experience acculturation stress and struggle with balancing their heritage with Canadian culture.This can lead to identity issues and feelings of not belonging to either culture. 

For first generation children or second generation children, it can be difficult to feel like they belong anywhere. First generation children have to adapt to a whole new way of life — learn a new language, meet new people of a different culture. During the process of acculturation certain traditions are maintained and lost. For both first and second generation children, they might not identify with either culture because inside their home traditional values may be rejected and when people outside ask for their identity and answer “Canadian,” they receive a response of doubting faces. 

One way to help with identity/belonging issues is to maintain cultural connections. If your parents preserved your culture and traditions, embrace them. Engaging in cultural activities and talking to people in your community can provide a sense of belonging. Seeking out others similar to you can help foster your cultural identity. 

3) Academic and Professional Pressure

Almost everyone has heard of the Asian stereotype of parents wanting their children to pursue a career in either medicine, law, or engineering. Many Asian cultures place a strong emphasis on high academic and professional achievements. For Asian Canadian students and young professionals the pressure to succeed can lead to stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Prioritize your mental and physical health by practicing self-care. Take frequent breaks throughout the day and engage in hobbies you enjoy. Practice mindfulness activities such as meditation and journaling to manage stress and anxiety. Take care of your physical health by exercising regularly and get eight hours of sleep each day. 

4) Family Challenges 

Hasan Minhaj, an American comedian once said, “I think the difference between our generation and our parent’s generation is that they’re always trying to survive while I’m trying to live.” 

Many Asian immigrant children have heard of the adversity their parents faced while immigrating to a new country. They feel the strong need to give back after all the struggles their parents experienced by fulfilling their dreams and goals for them. However, their dreams may not be the same as the one their parents have in mind which can lead to difficulties expressing emotions, seeking help, or discussing personal problems in the fear of sounding ungrateful. 

Have a conversation with your parents and talk about your own goals. Before going into the conversation, understand what you want to achieve and come prepared with information. Tell them about the pressures you are facing and how it has affected your mental health. Set boundaries with your parents by asking them to listen to all of what you have to say before they respond. 

5) Discrimination and Racism

Asian Canadians have experienced a 47% increase in anti-Asian hate during 2020 to 2022 due to the pandemic. Experiencing prejudice, stereotypes, and hate crimes can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One way to help with anxiety, depression and PTSD is to build a strong support network of friends and family you can talk to. Reach out to other members in your community and discuss your feelings and concerns. 

Seek out mental health professionals to assist you in understanding and addressing your mental health concerns effectively. Insight offers services in anxiety and depression as well as PTSD. Contact us or book online to talk to one of our psychologists that can help you through your mental health journey. 



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