‘Let's Talk About It' event discusses mental health

Baruch’s Office of Health and Wellness hosted its last event, “Let's Talk About It,” honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month which took place on April 30. 

The event discussed how to deal with stress and mental health from an Asian and Pacific Islander American perspective.

The office coordinator Teamare Gaston lead the discussion and brought a guest speaker Junhong Cao to aid her presentation in which they delved into the topic of mental health and stress within the Asian community. 

It also focused on give students the tools to tend to their own mental health and discussing the topic with friends and members of their family. 

Gaston highlighted that almost “5.4% of the U.S. population identifies as Asian American or Pacific Islander.” 

Of that population, over “13% had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year.” 

She continued, “18.9 percent of Asian American high school students report considering suicide, versus 15.5 percent of Caucasians.” 

Cao went over her own observations she learned about mental health as a clinical psychologist who primarily deals with Asian American clients. 

There are “reports of fewer mental health conditions in her clients than their white counterparts,” she explained, but the clients are also “more likely to consider and attempt suicide.” 

She also said that they are “three times less likely than their white counterparts to seek treatment” and they “have the most difficulty accessing mental health treatment due to their language barrier.” 

Gaston made the discussion more interactive by asking students in the audience to engage in roleplay scenarios where they acted out typical conversations that can happen among families. Students roleplayed as either parents or students.

This activity helped students realize how mental health and stress affect students to an extent where the effect is questioned or examined by outside sources, such as one’s own family. 

A student in the audience mentioned that she related to a scenario that was acted out. 

This scenario depicted a time she had to keep a secret from her parent. 

With this discussion, both Gaston and Cao explored how Asian American students have it tough when it comes to pleasing their parents or guardians through achieving academic accolades, being a good child, etc. 

“College students have great potential, all these dreams to fulfill in their dreams and careers, and I hope they continue to achieve what they want to achieve,” Cao said. 

For Asian Americans, and all other students, she hopes that they can “continue to be willing to talk about issues.”