May 23, 2008
Discussing mental health disparities in the API community

A part of the MGH's inaugural celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (API) Heritage Month, the Association of Multicultural Members of Partners (AMMP) hosted a special forum May 8 in the Trustees Room featuring Ed K.S. Wang, PsyD, director of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Office of Multicultural Affairs. Wang presented information about mental health disparities in the API community and led a thought-provoking discussion about strategies for addressing this issue.

According to Wang, some groups of Asian Americans have higher suicide rates than the national average, and Asian-American women have the highest suicide rates among women 65 and older. He also described how many Southeast Asian refugees suffer fmental health disparitiesrom post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with traumas experienced before and after immigration to the United States. Nearly 70 percent of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Nearly half of Cambodian adolescents who had survived concentration camps during the Pol Pot regime experienced PTSD, and 41 percent suffered from depression 10 years after leaving Cambodia.

"With education, understanding and community collaboration, we can begin to address not only mental health disparities but also overall health care disparities in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities," says Wang. API month will culminate with a celebration for MGH staff and employees May 30 under the Bulfinch Tent, featuring speakers and a variety of cultural dance groups. For more information, contact Natalie Nguyen, administrative fellow, at (617) 724-4136 or ncnguyen@partners.org.

REDUCING API DISPARITIES: From left, Shea Sherrod Asfaw, chair of AMMP: Wang and Nguyen

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