By Kenny Sui-Fung Yim
The East Coast Asian American Student Union organized the first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Mental Health Summit at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Students from as far as University of Connecticut, Storrs (UConn), as well as local students and professionals took part on March 29.
According to the summit planning committee members, their goal is to foster dialogues that will then ripple across the Asian American community. The forum is specifically aimed at bringing together students, facilitators, and community organizations in New England, so they can network and engage in meaningful discussion.
Workshop leaders at the summit were active members of the health community. Event attendees had a wide selection to choose from, including “Debunking, Intervention, and Prevention (Awareness): Depression and Suicide with Dr. Aileen Lee,” “Challenges and Strengths: Asian American College Students with Dr. Karen Suyemoto,” “API Body Image with Shruti Mukkamala and Kim Hazeltine,” “Mental Health and Immigration with Dr. Andrew Leong,” “AAPI+LGBT and Mental Health with Alex Kim,” and “Reclaiming Mental Health with Dr. Julie Yun.”
Many individuals talked about making new connections and finding new words to describe the experiences of health psychology. At the AAPI and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) discussion, allies, as well as self-identified gay students, learned about ways that racism, homophobia and sexism can affect a person’s bodily reactions.
The format encouraged mingling and discussion of topics related to mental health. Two students from UConn, who hadn’t known each other, met at the conference. One was a nursing senior year student, while the other was exploring diversity, including taking classes on gender and sexuality in Latin culture and family psychology. They were nervous about job prospects but excited by the summit opening their minds to potential areas of interest.