Story at a glance

  • Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the United States.
  • A new report finds that Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by this hate than the pandemic itself.
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are already less likely to access mental health care and treatment due to “structural, cultural and linguistic barriers.”

After a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year, a new report shows that the rise in racism is taking a serious toll on the mental health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — and they’re not getting the help they need. 

“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 Richelle Concepcion, president of the Asian American Psychological Association, in a release. “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.”


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One in five Asian Americans who have experienced racism display racial trauma and heightened symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and physical symptoms, according to a new report from Stop AAPI Hate and studies on "National Anti-Asian American Racism" and "COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences." Even as they continue to face the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic recession, those who've experienced anti-Asian hate are more stressed by the racism than COVID-19 itself. 

"We have been terrorized by a racist offender who lives next door to us. We feel afraid for our safety, emotionally traumatized, elder abuse by yelling, shouting, videotaping and spitting at our elderly mother when she is in her own backyard. We are on edge, constantly fear intrusion into our home, cannot sleep well at night, unable to walk outside due to fear for our safety," said one report from Villa Park, California. 


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While hate incidents often go unreported, nearly one-third of those who reported racial trauma saw a reduction in symptoms. Still, structural, cultural and linguistic barriers have historically kept members of the AAPI community from accessing the mental health care and treatment needed to cope.

“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, in a release. “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.


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Published on May 27, 2021