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A Brief But Spectacular take on Asian American mental health
William Brangham: Christine Catipon is a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, Counseling Center.
Growing up Filipina, she said, no one around her ever talked about mental health. So now she's trying to break through the barriers that keep her community away from this crucial therapy.
Tonight, she shares her Brief But Spectacular take on Asian American mental health.
Dr. Christine Catipon, University of California, Irvine, Counseling Center: Growing up, there was still a lot of mental health stigma. It wasn't something that was ever talked about in school.
So I learned to keep it quiet. I actually went to a Catholic school for first through 12th grade. And I remember, when I was in the sixth grade, I struggled. And the way that was taking care of was getting marched to the principal's office, who was the nun, and getting shamed for how I made my mother cry.
Part of my desire and my passion to do this work is so that one Filipina girl doesn't have to feel the way that I did.
Some of the nuances that are so unique to working with people who are Filipino in mental health, we have to juggle stigma. We have to juggle sensitivity to culture. We have to juggle this inherent shame.
One of our primary Filipino values is kapwa, which is the sense of connectedness. Everything I do, it represents or is a reflection of the people around me. Many times, the stigma of mental health is, I have something wrong and I don't want to bring shame to my family, so I'm not going to say anything about it.
Most people of color are from collectivistic cultures. We're always used to thinking of, what's the best thing for the community as a whole? So, when I introduced this concept of self-care, they just can't wrap their heads around it. Or they think that it's selfish, because, like, who am I to be taking off in the middle of the afternoon to sit in nature, when I should be earning money to help my family?
But I like to think of it as, you are replenishing yourself, and that rest is productive. It's not a waste of time. I think there's a real misunderstanding that people have to be very, extremely down or depressed or anxious or all of these things in order to justify going to therapy.
But, really, if you're not feeling great, and you would like tools and answers and insights, yes, that's what a therapist is for.
My name is Dr. Christine Catipon, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on Filipino American mental health.
William Brangham: You can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.