On March 17, the country woke up to the devastating news of yet another mass shooting. The victims? Eight people, six of who were Asian women aged between 44 and 75. Lulu Wang, a Chinese American filmmaker, and director expressed her pain on social media, stating that these were the kind of women who were working hard to school their children and send money back home.
They’ve had a lot to deal with
Unfortunately, COVID 19 is not the only thing Asian Americans have had to battle over the past year. They have also been in the middle of unwarranted verbal assaults, discrimination, and even physical violence. They have been insulted, spat on, told to go back from where they came and accused of importing the pandemic to America. The most vulnerable community members, youth, women, and the elderly have been the biggest target.
The viral videos of unprovoked violence against Asian Americans can be traumatizing for people who are not directly attacked. Psychiatrists can confirm that Asian Americans were already grappling with mental health issues well before COVID 19. They’ve been stereotyped since the 60s as the ‘Model Minority. A uniformly successful group that does not make noise or rock the boat. The stereotype coincided with cultural values that embrace success and stigmatize anything deemed shameful, including getting treatment for mental health issues.
As a result, Asian Americans are up to three times less likely to seek mental health assistance than Non-Hispanic White Americans and more likely to find it unhelpful. A recent study also revealed that Asian American and Pacific Islander students are half as likely to take up a psychiatric diagnosis as White students. This can be attributed to the fact that most of them have never seen a psychiatrist. Shockingly, up to 40% of them are likely to attempt suicide in their college lifetimes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
To all that, we now add racial attacks. Psychologist Robert Carter says that racial discrimination makes the world feel less safe. He adds that victims are affected by the incident even long after it happens. They often report hypervigilance, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and numbness. All these are symptoms of PTSD.