Amid rise in hate attacks against Asian Americans, mental health expert provides advice on how to cope

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Amid rise in racial hate, psychiatrist has advice on how to cope
Instances of hate speech and hate attacks against Asian Pacific Islander Americans are on the rise, which is taking a toll on mental health. One local psychiatrist says you shouldn't be ashamed to seek help for mental health, and prioritizing self care is important.

Instances of hate speech and hate attacks against Asian Pacific Islander Americans are on the rise.

A psychiatrist describes how the stress of being a target and the realization that you can still be singled out for simply being of Asian descent is taking a mental toll.

Local resident Jerry Raburn was one of many who took part in a recent protest in Diamond Bar to Stop Asian Hate,

"I'm sick and tired and angry of what's happening to my community," Raburn said.

Anger. Anguish. Fear. Raburn, a Thai-American, is not alone in feeling a range of stressful emotions.

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"I'm always afraid of any comments or stereotypes and even microaggressions," he said.

"I think this has been a very harsh wake-up call," said Dr. Ernest Rasyidi, who is psychiatrist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. He said his own wife was targeted while grocery shopping. The aggressor blamed her for the pandemic.

"She actually had the baby with her strapped to her chest with the carrier. And this older Caucasian gentleman started following her around, and then started yelling at her telling her to get out," Rasyidi said.

Dr. Rasyidi admits how he responded when his wife told him about it contributed more to her stress and to the problem.

"My reaction was initially to minimize it," he said. "'It's no big deal. There's always going to be people out there who are foolish. It's their problem. It's not our problem.' Again that is the danger of denial."

Rasyidi says the myth that all Asian Americans are successful adds to the overarching social issues. And it makes Asian Americans the target of resentment..

"Asian Americans are not the model minority. We have unmet needs that need to be addressed, and many Asian Americans do suffer from poverty," Raburn said.

With violent confrontations becoming daily occurrences. Dr. Rasyidi's advice is to acknowledge feeling stressed and anxious. Don't be ashamed to seek mental help.

"I think there are times where you're going to push harder and times when you sort of take a step back and recharge," he said.

Prioritize self-care because Dr. Rasyidi said the ongoing challenges should be viewed more as a marathon rather than a sprint.

"That may take the form of community. It may take the form of activism. It may take the form of spiritual care," he said.

Make changes that'll help you cope and feel empowered.

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