How One Organization Connects Mental Health to Mentorship for Youth AAPI
Miki Lin, 16, was born and raised in Chinatown – it’s her home, but she avoids going out.
“Every time I go out, it’s like a feeling of despair. I see a whole bunch of people, a whole bunch of cars. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lin said.
She’s stuck in her apartment at the mercy of her anxiety.
“My family, they don’t really understand mental health and they’ve dismissed it. To me, it’s a thing that annoys my family. It’s a thing that overwhelms my family when I have anxiety attacks “, added Lin.
Lin also comes from humble beginnings.
“I recently learned that Applebees apparently wasn’t fancy,” she says, “I had memories of going to the sweatshop with my mom.”
Lin is far from alone. There are more than 180,000 AAPI students in New York public schools. According to the town hall, more than 21% of them live in poverty. It’s more than one in five. Almost half of them live in homes with adults who are not fluent in English.
The leading cause of death among AAPI adolescents aged 5 to 19 is suicide.
“I think the myth of model minorities causes a lot of problems for our young people. So if they don’t get into a specialized high school, it’s a failure. If they don’t get into a prestigious college, it’s a failure. is a failure,” said Ivy Li, associate director of mental health for Apex For Youth.
Apex For Youth is an organization that connects mental health and mentoring to support AAPI youth.
Li says the role model minority myth causes teenagers like Miki Lin to question their sense of worth.
However, with the support of Apex for Youth, the teenager has found a mentor and a friend.
“She’s gained a lot of confidence in the way she talks about herself – almost like a little leader where she’ll help start the conversation if no one raises their hand to speak,” Eileen Jen said.
“At Apex, they don’t see me doing anything wrong when I’m nervous, when I’m in trouble — it’s like I’m part of the family,” Lin said.
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