The United States has seen a significant spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination in the past year. Since spring of 2020, “there was anti-Asian bigotry and misinformation spreading almost as quickly as the [corona] virus itself,” said Rep. Judy Chu at an online panel discussion hosted by the American Counseling Association last month to address the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment and the professional counselor’s role in addressing it.
“Conversations about mental health have never been more important,” she noted. “With each new report of an innocent Asian American being attacked, many across the country worry, ‘Will I be next?’” Chu, a Democrat who has represented California’s 27th district since 2009, is a psychologist and the first Chinese American woman to be elected to Congress.
She was one of three legislators on the panel discussion held on July 21. The other speakers included Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos of Washington and Sen. Chris Lee of Hawaii as well as ACA CEO Richard Yep and ACA President S. Kent Butler.
The panelists noted that stigma and barriers, including being isolated or marginalized because of language barriers, often keep those in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community from seeking mental health services. Lee and Santos also discussed how mental health, trauma and the COVID-19 pandemic intersect.
“The issues that we are seeing have a lot to do with the isolation that we’ve experienced under COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges of race that have never been resolved in our country,” said Santos, who has been a community activist for more than 40 years. “What we are seeing, in my opinion, is the exacerbation of those fault lines that have existed in our communities for many, many years. … These are challenges that will involve all of us working together at the state and national level to address.”
Butler noted that counselors are called to help all disadvantaged groups. Not only is helping people regardless of their background or immigration status an ethical mandate but it is also a part of “who we are” as counselors, Butler stressed.
Although numerous measures have been passed by local and federal legislatures to better track and address anti-Asian violence and hostility in the United States, “we still need to do more,” Chu said. “There is so much that can be done to support our communities, and counselors are on the front lines.”
Watch the full video of the July 21 event at ACA’s YouTube page: youtu.be/PYAvqIOWEzo
Related reading from Counseling Today
- “Responding to the increase of hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans”
- “The psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on Asian Americans: Counselor interventions and considerations”
Support the following initiatives and others by visiting the ACA Take Action page:
- Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act
- Stop Mental Health Stigma in Our Communities Act
- Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act
More from ACA
- March 2021 statement on violence, harassment and bullying against the Asian American community (with resources)
- ACA anti-racism statement (June 2020)
- ACA resources on cultural competencies and combating racism
Bethany Bray is a senior writer and social media coordinator for Counseling Today. Contact her at email@example.com.
Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.