Asian Health Advocacy Alliance Promotes Well-Being and Community Support for Mental Health


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As sounds of children skipping rope and playing the childhood game “Red light, green light” could be heard in the background, attendees at the Asian Health Advocacy Alliance Wellness Day stopped to write affirmations and advice.

Written on colorful scraps of paper, a prompt read, “What advice would you give your freshman? “

On Friday, the UNC Asian Health Advocacy Alliance partnered with HBO Max and Yaya Tea for the Wellness Day event, which included activities hosted by UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, the Vietnamese Student Association and WE ARE SAATH at UNC-CH. Activities included badminton, Dutch double rope, jianzi, slime making and more.

For Angela Chen, AHAA Co-Chair, the Affirmation Station and Wellness Event was the perfect opportunity to capture the advice she thinks UNC students, especially students in subclass, most need to hear.

“I read one of their leaflets, and the one I read, I think, captures what I would have said perfectly,” Chen said. “It was something like, ‘No matter how stressful or crazy this challenge you may be facing right now, six months from now it won’t look like anything to you.”

The Asian Health Advocacy Alliance works to improve the overall health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in North Carolina through advocacy, education, and community engagement.

Junior Hayden Park, the president of events for the AHAA, said she joined the organization because of her own experiences with mental health.

“Personally, what attracted me to this club is that I have struggled with mental health since I was in high school, and I have also struggled with cultural skills and Western medicine where a lot of people don’t think there are disparities with Asian Americans. health, ”Park said. “Especially with my family, who have a language barrier when they talk to doctors – my parents go to Korea whenever they have a health problem because they don’t trust the doctors here.”

While the AHAA does not focus specifically on students, the difficult semester UNC has experienced has opened the door to new opportunities for student engagement.

The AHAA helped make Park feel included and meet her diverse needs as a minority student, she said.

Jacqueline Gu, co-chair of AHAA, and Chen both said they were excited to work with Irang Kim, post-MSW social work researcher at CAPS, who they believe can relate to some of their cultural experiences. as members of the AAPI. community.

“Our social work colleague, Irang Kim, was instrumental in working alongside the AHAA for this event and volunteered to facilitate a relaxation station where students can play traditional Korean games,” learn origami, color and use sensory objects to relieve stress. CAPS psychologist Cherish Williams said in a statement via UNC Media Relations, “We hope our AAPI student community feels supported and knows that CAPS is committed to providing traditional and non-traditional mental health resources to our students.”

Gu noted the intersections of his cultural identity and mental health issues.

“The motivation for this organization, for both Angela and me, really came from our experiences as first generation immigrants, seeing the difficulties our parents had in navigating the health care system and also our own difficulties. not being able to arbitrate between different understandings of health that might come to grips with the American health care system, ”Gu said.

While these disparities have been constant over time, Gu also highlighted the additional pressure COVID-19 has added to these challenges.

Also grappling with the effects of COVID on our community and thinking about how, once COVID hit, a lot of the disparities were really visible through things like vaccine inequality and the number of businesses affected She said.

As the finals approach and the stress level increases, the organizers and attendees of Wellness Field Day wanted to take the opportunity to remind students of the importance of well-being.

“Well-being is all that allows people to take care of themselves, have fun and remember that they’re not just there to study, which, I mean, we are here.” to study, but there is more to life than studying. Sebastian Aragon, who attended the event, said. “You have to remember to take care of yourself, your friends and the people around you.”

@neptunejade

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