5th Annual AAPI Mental Health Awareness Event Recap

In May, which is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI Contra Costa’s Chinese division held its annual mental health lecture. This year, we had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Philip Lowe, an esteemed psychologist, along with three young guest speakers – Yiwen, Michelle, and Leo. They joined us to discuss the pressing mental health issues faced by adolescents today.


As an experienced mental health professional, Dr. Philip Lowe shared invaluable insights and practical advice on maintaining mental well-being. His compassion for the Asian community and dedication to supporting youth were evident throughout his talk. The personal stories shared by the three young speakers were both vivid and impactful, providing parents with a deeper understanding of the challenges their children face.

Youth Speakers’ Insights

Cultural Differences and Adaptation

Yiwen recounted her experiences moving to the US and adjusting to a predominantly white and Indian community. She highlighted the cultural challenges and the sense of isolation she initially felt due to language barriers and cultural differences. Through active participation in social activities, she gradually found her place and embraced her cultural identity.

Parental Expectations and Pressure

Michelle discussed the conflicts with her parents regarding their high expectations. She illustrated these tensions through her experience of raising a cat, showing the struggle between parental expectations and self-identity. Michelle emphasized that understanding and acceptance are crucial in family communication and highlighted the psychological stress caused by unrealistic parental expectations.

Social Challenges and Mental Health

Leo focused on the social pressures that adolescents face. He explained that the high expectations to quickly adapt to a new cultural environment can be overwhelming. His volunteer experience at NAMI taught him the importance of a sense of belonging and social support. Leo encouraged parents to be more attentive to their children’s social lives and to provide the necessary support.

Dr. Philip Lowe’s Professional Insights

After listening to the students, Dr. Philip Lowe delved into the mental health challenges from a professional perspective. He pointed out that cultural differences and language barriers are common issues for Asian American adolescents. He stressed that parents should give their children enough space and time to adapt to the new environment rather than solely focusing on academic achievements.

Dr. Philip Lowe highlighted the high expectations placed on children in many Asian families, which can lead to significant stress. He suggested that parents should pay more attention to their children’s overall development, including emotional and social skills, and understand the cultural shocks their children face in a new environment.

Cultural Challenges

Asian adolescents often face unique challenges growing up in the United States. While the country is a melting pot of cultures, integrating into mainstream culture can be challenging. Dr. Philip Lowe explained that these youths might experience identity confusion and a lack of belonging, especially with the dual pressures of language and cultural differences. Parents should support their children through this adjustment period and not just focus on academic performance.

Adolescent Mental Health Issues

Dr. Philip Lowe noted that adolescence is a peak period for mental health issues, including depression, autism, and ADHD. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues due to social isolation and uncertainty. He urged parents to recognize early signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, loss of interest, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, and to seek professional help promptly.

College Students’ Alcohol and Drug Issues

Dr. Philip Lowe discussed the problems of alcohol and drug use among college students, driven by social pressure and curiosity. He called on parents to pay close attention to their children’s daily lives, social circles, and activities to identify and address these issues early. Open communication channels are essential to help children develop healthy values and habits.

Family Communication and Support

Finally, Dr. Philip Lowe offered several recommendations to improve family communication and support. He advised parents to establish open dialogues with their children, pay attention to their emotional and mental states, and consider activities like pet ownership to help relieve stress. He emphasized the profound impact of a warm, understanding, and supportive family environment on children’s mental health.

This lecture provided invaluable insights and practical advice on mental health issues in the Asian community. Through the shared stories and discussions, participants gained a deeper understanding and learned effective strategies to address these challenges. We look forward to hosting more events like this in the future to help more families grow and overcome challenges together.

Stay tuned to NAMI CC’s website and public WeChat account for more updates on our activities and articles on mental health.