Finding Hope in Support Groups

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Part 3 – Emily’s Story: Finding Hope in Support Groups

By Emily Wu Truong

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In honor of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Guest Blogger Emily Wu Truong, who received a fellowship from the Entertainment Industries Council’s Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, created this three-part series on Asian American mental health. This is the third article of the three-part series about perfectionism and mental health. 

While seeking affordable means to help myself, I was privileged to meet Dr. Eliza Noh, Cal State Fullerton Associate Professor specializing in Asian American suicidology.  She reported that having a strong support network was a common theme among her interviews with Asian American women who had attempted suicide. After I opened up to her about my depression, she encouraged I work on building my support network, and I took her advice to heart.

For myself, I found hope when I learned about the world of support groups. The groups I attended were from Recovery International, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Asian Coalition, and Kaiser Permanente’s Depression and Anxiety group therapy.

As I attended these groups, I found myself feeling relieved and far from isolation because I saw that I was not alone. These groups were safe places where I could openly share my experiences of depression without shame. Group members commended me for having the courage to share. We learned techniques to become more cognizant of our own thoughts, feelings, and bodily reactions in response to circumstances that were out of my control. I became more self-aware of my daily thought patterns and began to develop more attitudes of gratitude. To top it all off, fees to attend these meetings were free or nominal! Overall, the more I attended these meetings, the quality of my life improved. They reinforced the messages of hope where helplessness is not hopelessness, and emotional healing is possible.

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Seeking Help in an Imperfect Mental Health System

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Part 2 – Emily’s Story: Seeking Help in an Imperfect Mental Health System

By Emily Wu Truong

In honor of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Guest Blogger Emily Wu Truong, who received a fellowship from the Entertainment Industries Council’s Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, created this three-part series on Asian American mental health. This is the second article of the three-part series about perfectionism and mental health. 

Growing up, I had no idea how to define myself or love myself. I had no concept of understanding my true worth as an individual because I was so critical of myself. I realized that I hardly ever complimented myself and always needed that external validation from others.  However, it was not until my breakdowns in July 2013, that I had breakthrough moments of epiphany, like a spiritual awakening of my true identity.

This awakening began two years ago after dealing with many frustrating circumstances.  I came to a place in my life where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I set myself on a mission to learn how to deactivate my emotional triggers. Once I made that decision, a mixture of painful repressed memories came rushing into my conscientiousness.  Emotionally, it was rather overwhelming that I would leave my brain feeling completely mentally exhausted.  These breakdowns then prompted me to seek initial help from the mental health system.

Without anyone to provide me with an orientation to the mental health system, trying to navigate the mental health system was extremely frustrating. 

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July: National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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Part 1 – Emily’s Story: Living with Perfectionism & Depression

By Emily Wu Truong

In honor of July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Guest Blogger Emily Wu Truong, who received a fellowship from the Entertainment Industries Council’s Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, created this three-part series on Asian American mental health. This is the first article of the three-part series about perfectionism and mental health. 

I used to believe that perfectionism was real. Because straight A’s were expected of me, I thought perfection was supposed to be the norm. Growing up, my parents would talk about how they attended National Taiwan University, which was considered the Harvard of Taiwan. They were always at the top of their classes, and indirectly, that led me to believe that “I need to make them proud by doing the same.” I thought I was living in a world where adults were to be perfect, and if I couldn’t measure up, I would have nothing to contribute to society. However, it was not until much later in life that I realized that I was shooting myself in the foot by setting up unrealistic expectations for myself.

While doing some research on perfectionism and its relation to mental health, I found a UCLA research study by Jaimin Yoon and Anna S. Lau on the topic of Maladaptive Perfectionism and Depressive Symptoms Among Asian American College Students: Contributions of Interdependence and Parental Relations. Yoon & Lau stated that “Perfectionism is commonly thought of as a trait that motivates individuals to strive toward important goals and foster excellence. However, a growing literature highlights aspects of perfectionism are linked to negative psychological outcomes, including low self-esteem, depression, and suicidality.” Being able to find research that could validate my personal experiences was eye-opening.

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Foundations Pledge an Initial $1 million to support AAPI communities

At a briefing held by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it was reported that the Ford, W.K. Kellogg, and Kresge foundations have pledged an initial $1 million to support Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)  communities. The money will support initiatives to combat problems such as significant income and educational  disparities among Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans and the harassment of South Asian and Muslim communities.