Students of color face mental health stigma

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a month to raise awareness on a stigmatized topic. This month is used to spread hope to those that are affected by suicide and mental illness.

For people of color, mental health is even more taboo. According to the National Center of Biotechnology, “many who needed mental health services were not receiving them. Racial and ethnic minorities are significantly more likely than whites to delay or forgo needed mental health care.”

For junior Sherry Hu, she believes people of color tend to ignore their feelings to prevent reinforcing a stereotype. 

“I think people of color need to seem like they’re emotionally strong, to prevent hateful remarks,” Hu said. “For example, Asians are stereotyped as ‘docile’ and ‘submissive,’ so a lot of Asian people I know hide their emotions and what they are actually feeling to prevent that stereotype from being pushed onto them.”

Mental health is not prioritized and is less talked about in POC families according to sophomore Aditiya Poduval.

“Academics and achieving high was always a priority and a lot of the time children tend to suppress and invalidate their own emotions because of how they were raised,” Poduval said. “Growing up, I was never told how to handle my emotions and how to cope with sadness because my feelings were often invalidated by my parents and relatives. Since this generational difference was an issue, it was hard for me to open up to people because I was always supposed to be ‘strong’ and ‘tough.’”

Although depression and suicide are some of the top causes of death for men, they are less likely to seek mental help says Healthline writer Leah Campbell. 

For Poduval, men’s mental health is hardly talked about in families and media. 

“Not only being a person of color, but also a male, we’re often told that we’re not supposed to be emotional and we are supposed to ‘man up,’” he said. “Because of this toxic masculinity that is so significant in society, it has highly impacted my mental health.”