Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of AAPI Equity Alliance, an advocacy agency based in Los Angeles, said the stigma among Asian Americans surrounding mental health care echoes attitudes felt more broadly across the general population.
“More than stigma, there are issues around accessibility,” Kulkarni said. “Most health care plans have minimal coverage for mental health services, and sometimes they farm them out to other entities. For those who are limited English-speaking, how do they navigate that and the lack of culturally literate providers?”
Kulkarni, who also teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, said students had told her that campus counseling services featured few, if any, Asian American therapists.
“They’re all older white women, and while they may have a strong understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy, they have a very limited understanding of the issues students brought to them,” Kulkarni said. “If you have thousands of solely white providers who speak only English, that’s the barrier I’m worried about.”