Finding Culturally Competent, Affordable AAPI Mental Health Care

By Michelle Yang

As a young Asian American student, realizing I wanted to work with a therapist was a really big step. Learning that a therapist could help me manage my severe depression and anxiety to get on the path to healing changed my life. My survival depended on breaking away from the pressure of feeling like I always needed to be perfect. If you’re going through the same process of accepting that you need help, I hope you acknowledge how difficult and healthy it can be.

After acknowledging you need help, the next step is finding a therapist who gets you and where you’re coming from culturally. There are many things I wish I knew when I started looking for culturally competent, affordable mental health care, and I’d like to share them with you.  

What Does Cultural Competency Mean in Mental Health Care?

A culturally competent therapist is a mental health provider who has a strong understanding of your culture—often because they share it. There are many benefits of having a therapist who understands your cultural background, including that you won’t have to spend time defending your upbringing or getting them to understand the challenges related to it. There may also be a deeper sense of trust that can be built up sooner, which helps you open up faster. They may better understand what is realistic within your family’s cultural dynamic. 

Can You Get Culturally Competent Care From Someone Outside Your Race or Background?

The simple answer is yes. An effective therapist who is trained in cultural competency is supposed to be able to listen, understand, and talk to you about cultural issues, including racism, regardless of their background. When deciding on a therapist, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:

  • What specific training do you have in working with people from my background or community? 
  • Can you tell me how you continue to develop cultural competency as a therapist?

Learn how to manage parents or caregivers who don’t support you going to therapy

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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.