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A Message from our Executive Director: Happy AANHPI Heritage Month & Mental Health Awareness Month!

NAAPIMHA joins its friends and colleagues in celebrating May as both Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage month as well as national Mental Health Awareness month. This provides a unique opportunity to not only raise awareness around our diverse heritages and mental health, it gives us a chance to talk about how the two are directly related. It is important to continue addressing the many mental health challenges facing Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPIs) but NAAPIMHA invites you to also join us in celebrating who we are as this TOO is mental health.

In 2021, NAAPIMHA was proud to have taken the lead to get May 10th designated as National Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Mental Health Day in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to strengthen the dialogue around mental health. NAAPIMHA wants to acknowledge our longstanding relationship with RAMS, Inc. in San Francisco which created the first statewide proclamation making May 10th Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day in California in 2010 and served as the basis for our national effort. This year, the resolution will be introduced yet again in the House of Representative and a Senate companion will be introduced for the first time this year. At the state and local level, AA and NHPI mental health advocates and organizations from 31 states and cities have submitted proclamation requests. This May 10th, NAAPIMHA will be joined by over 60+ community partner organizations to center and support AA and NHPI mental health in communities nationwide.

Established in 2001, NAAPIMHA works closely with our partners at the community, national and federal levels to improve the overall health and wellbeing of AA and NHPIs, recognizing the critical role mental health plays in all our lives. Unfortunately, there continues to be a taboo around mental health. NAAPIMHA takes a broader whole health, public health approach that is not only culturally appropriate, it makes it safer to talk about mental health by recognizing it is a part of all our lives in one form or another.

Increasing access to care is key to eliminating health disparities but for many, there is little for them to access and the pandemic only exacerbated an already serious situation. While there are excellent AA and NHPI serving community based behavioral health organizations, they continue to be overworked and overwhelmed. Improving the mental health workforce has been core to NAAPIMHA’s efforts from its beginning. It accomplished this by developing Growing Our Own, to increase the cultural competence of providers, Achieving Whole Health (AWH) to train individuals to become Wellness Coaches. SAMHSA selected AWH as a best practices model for their NNEDLearn for the past 10 years. AWH uses a whole health approach to train individuals to become Wellness Coaches to address the relationship between mental health and physical health and expanding the workforce to go beyond only those with graduate degrees. NAAPIMHA developed a Mental Health Interpreter Training Project to train interpreters to work in mental health settings and Friends DO Make A Difference to develop mental health leadership among AA and NHPI youth. In response to the growing anti-Asian hate, NAAPIMHA created Asians in Focus* to tell our stories, in our voices using our words and heART’s hope to focus on the healing power of art.

NAAPIMHA is pleased to announce the revitalization of its National Asian American Pacific Islander Empowerment Network, NAAPIEN, the only national organization for, by and about AA and NHPIs with lived experience. Initially developed in 2013, it was on hold due to lack of resources but given the renewed interest in mental health we are excited to grow this important project.

We hosted our Summit Redefining Mental Health: Centering Voices of Youth and People with Lived Experience this past April in San Francisco. A report summarizing the recommendations from the community will be shared on AANHPI Mental Health Day (May 10) with community based organizations, the White House Initiative on AA and NHPIs, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), members of the health subcommittee of the National Council Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), and others invested in improving the mental health of AA and NHPIs.

We invite you to join us as we continue to advocate for improving the mental health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. No one agency/organization can do all the work but collectively we can make a difference. Sign-up for advocacy alerts from our AANHPI Mental Health Advocacy Platform to receive information about our latest sign-on letters and advocacy campaigns.

We encourage you to visit our website to get more information about who we are, what we do, and future events where we can connect. We appreciate any support you can offer. Donations play a key role in our capacity to continue our work.

Please contact the following for further information:

May 10th National AANHPI Mental Health Day and Policy Advocacy Efforts

Deputy Director

Krystle Canare

NAAPIEN – National AAPI Empowerment Network and Training Initiatives

Director of Training, Director NAAPIEN

Dr. Pata Suyemoto

Friends DO Make A Difference

Director of Programs

Allyson Goto

In solidarity.

DJ Ida, PhD

Executive Director


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