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APA Leadership Statement on Anti-Asian American Racism and Mental Health

  • March 22, 2021

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic over a year ago, the U.S. has seen an ugly and brutal rise in racist incidents and rhetoric against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Between March 2020 and February 2021, the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate recorded 3,795 hate incidents, representing but a fraction of what actually occurs. As the American Psychiatric Association (APA) expressed in a statement last week, the shooting in Atlanta on March 16, 2021, is cause for further fear in the AAPI community across the nation.

The APA strongly condemns racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against the AAPI community. Racism is considered an adverse event, and an assault to the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. In our role as physicians, we back efforts to eliminate bigotry and discrimination. Hate crimes target individuals because they represent a specific community and impact not only the victims and their immediate family and friends, but also those communities locally and across the country. We collectively express our support and we stand together with our AAPI colleagues and their families during this time, as well as all with those who are hurt by bias and hatred.

We mourn the losses of Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Yong Ae Yue. We send our support to Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz (who at this writing was in critical condition) and his family.

Six of the eight lost were Asian women, who were beloved mothers, daughters, friends, and essential financial providers to their families. Asian women have suffered discrimination and stereotyping as early as the Page Act of 1875, which made Chinese women the first class of persons excluded from immigration, on the grounds that they were sexually “immoral.” The stereotyping of Asian women as sexual objects pervades U.S. history, and promotes harassment and violence that Asian American women unfairly endure.

We urge psychiatrists to review the resources below to understand racism’s impact and how to provide better treatment for AAPI patients.

Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., APA President
Dora-Linda Wang, M.D., M.A., President, APA Caucus of Asian American Psychiatrists
Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., APA CEO and Medical Director


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