The Fil–Am community, which has assimilated into American society more easily relative to other Asian communities, seems to reject the help–seeking mentality. E.J.R. David claims in a study that “cultural mistrust” plays a major role among the Fil–Am community. Mistreatment and oppression throughout Pilipino and Fil–Am history has certainly influenced this mistrust. However, one of the findings was that younger generations are more inclined to seek psychological help, as they may not have the same concerns as first generation Pilipinos. Those more assimilated and familiar with American culture, as well as those with a higher economic status, were also more willing (or able) to seek help. While Pilipino culture may have taught us to get through our struggles on our own, we should not be afraid to speak up. Like other Asian communities, loss of face and shame may be feared among Pilipinos. As a young Fil–Am, I unknowingly lived with this mentality. Sharing my most difficult struggles wasn’t originally part of my personality, nor my identity. Admitting that I needed help required a lot of courage. It wasn’t until my second year of college that I realized seeking help was even an option. After a referral from one of my advisors, I visited the William & Mary Counseling Center. I was afraid. I felt like I was admitting defeat or weakness. I eventually realized that it was okay to be afraid, but it should never be a reason to keep silent. I ended up returning to the Counseling Center
throughout the rest of my time at William & Mary. I attended meditation sessions, individual therapy, and (the most helpful in my opinion) group therapy. Being able to speak my mind, without fear of judgment or having to follow through with explicit advice, was reinvigorating. I knew I was being heard, and in turn, I got as much out of it as I put into it. In a country as diverse as America, the cultural assumptions I faced as a Fil–Am are true for many who make up this great country. It is certainly not unique to Pilipino households. Our country is a rich melting pot, made up of a plethora of experiences, traditions and faiths. Immigrant communities are even more so at– risk, as it can be difficult to adopt an American lifestyle while adhering to ethnic roots and pride. However, it’s important that we help our respective communities to dispel stereotypes preventing those we know from seeking help. Our generation and future generations should embrace this mentality, and encourage their peers and the larger community to do the same. Young Fil–Ams should not be afraid to seek help. We can only benefit from confronting mental health. Regardless of cultural expectations, it is important to be selfish when it comes to our personal well– being. Speaking from first–hand experience, I assure you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
• http://mamatanap.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/seeking-help-as-a-young-fil-am/ • http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/default.htm • http://www.nami.org/gtsTemplate09.cfm?Section=Findings&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay. cfm&ContentID=75255 • www.nami.org/ • http://mamatanap.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/suicide-prevention-disappointment-in-americas-schools/ • http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/07/newtown-shooting-mental-health-reform/1781145/ • http://www.wm.edu/offices/counselingcenter/?svr=web • http://apaitonline.org/behavioral-health-services/ (image)