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New report shows deficiencies in Asian American mental health care

A new report from the California Department of Mental Health's California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) shows a severe deficiency in mental health care services for Asian Americans. The CRDP report argues that there is a lack of access to care, language barriers, and a cultural stigma against mental health in the Asian American community. 

Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblyman Ed Chau, and former State Assemblyman Mike Eng spoke at a press conference July 29 in Rosemead about the report and advocated for improvement on services targeting the American Asian population, China Press (世界日報) reports

According to Chu, recent officer-involved shootings during which Asian Americans with mental health issues were killed demonstrate an urgent need to address mental health care in the Asian community. “If we offer multilingual services, the result of these police involved tragedies will be very different," Chu said, according to China Press.

Alhambra resident Tony Nim, 35, was shot and killed on May 17 by officers when he brandished a knife in the Alhambra Police Station. Police attempted to communicate with him in various languages, but he did not respond before pulling out the weapon. Nim's family say their son suffered from mental illness for years. 

Jazmyne Ha Eng, 40, was killed by sheriff's deputies in January 2012 at Pacific Clinics Asian Family Center in Rosemead, where she had been a patient for 12 years, according to Pasadena Star-News. Police say the Rosemead resident, who suffered from schizophrenia, allegedly charged toward an officer with a ball-peen hammer in the clinic lobby. After police unsuccessfully attempted to subdue Eng with a Taser, they shot and killed her.

Representatives from Pacific Clinics also believe that better education about mental health care in the Asian American community is necessary.  “We cannot just give the Chinese English pamphlets and expect them to understand the material," Pacific Clinics Director of Prevention and Early Intervention Services Rocco Cheng told China Press. "Nor can we expect them to understand a story in an educational video that has no Asian faces. We cannot accept the ‘English only’ service any more."

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