The UNC Asian American Center will continue the community conversation about mental health on campus at its event, "Topics in Asian American Mental Health: A Discussion" this Wednesday.
The virtual event will be led by UNC Counseling and Psychological Services licensed clinical social worker Susan Chung and pre-doctoral psychology intern Misha Mohan who will discuss mental health patterns they’ve observed in their roles and facilitate an open dialogue with students.
The AAC first opened in 2020 with the goal of engaging and empowering Asian American students, faculty and staff on campus. Krupal Amin, the center's associate director, said that because the University lacks an Asian American studies program, the AAC wants to provide students with academic opportunities.
“We are an academic and community engagement center,” Amin said. “We really want to provide access to students, to scholars from across the nation who come in and share their research and provide openings for students to recognize fields they may not be able to encounter otherwise.”
The center is also a place for Asian American students and staff to share their histories, identities and cultures, Amin said. Now, through Wednesday’s event, the center wants to make mental health central to community discussion.
AAC Director Heidi Kim said in an email statement that addressing mental health among Asian American students has been a priority for the center.
“Mental health services was one of the first things that students talked to me about after the AAC was opened in 2020,” Kim said. “I’ve worked to advocate and support students advocating for more culturally expert mental health services for Asian Americans here on campus ... This is a crucial social issue and we’re delighted to learn from Susan and Misha at this event.”
After a student-led petition was widely circulated on campus in spring 2021, CAPS hired two counselors with Asian American and Pacific Islander backgrounds in August — one of which was Mohan.
In an effort to continue destigmatizing mental health for Asian American students, Amin said this discussion with CAPS counselors is designed for students to speak openly about their experiences and concerns.
“Giving students the opportunity to recognize that they can be seen as whole people and they are not just their resume, they are not just their CV, and that they might have complex identities and experiences,” Amin said. “We are making sure we are creating a healthy, open, accessible and destigmatized environment for them to be able to do that.”
The event will be a combination of presentations from Chung and Mohan, a question and answer session and open discussion, Amin said. The goal of this broad format is to allow students the chance to be heard and contribute to the conversation, she said.
Chung, who is also a part of CAPS’ Multicultural Health Program staff, said she wants to provide a safe space for students to share their experiences.
“To me, it is an opportunity for us to listen to and connect with our Asian American community at Carolina since I am aware that everyone's mental health journey is unique,” Chung said in a statement via Media Relations. “Events like this help to provide a safe space for students to share their experiences, to ask questions and to find support.”
To maximize accessibility, the center chose to hold the event virtually. In the face of the pandemic, Amin said the center wanted to ensure that students would feel comfortable attending.
"Topics in Asian American Mental Health: A Discussion" will take place Wednesday at 5 p.m. To access the event, click here to launch the Zoom meeting.
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