About the Project
The goal of this project is to help eliminate one type of health and racial inequity- specifically, the mental health disparities that exist among API communities- by building a coalition of API mental health professionals and social services agencies in the San Joaquin Valley. These mental health disparities exist in part because APIs underutilize mental health services due to stigma, lack of knowledge about mental health disorders, and lack of multi-culturally and linguistically sensitive services (Sue & Sue, 2016).
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley are home to more than 300,000 Asian Pacific Islander Individuals, making up 6.5% of the population. The 2011-2015 American Community Survey estimates that 6.2% of the San Joaquin Valley residents speak an API language at home.
The idea of the ValleyAPIMH project was conceptualized in 2016 and was realized in April, 2017, thanks to the generous support of the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund! As a practicing psychologist for more than 10 years, Dr. Ya-Shu Liang, the founding director of the project, had seen firsthand how API mental health providers in mainstream institutions are often undervalued and undersupported due to the invisibility of their work, especially in rural areas. Moreover, many API mental health providers in the San Joaquin Valley shared their desire to do more to decrease mental health stigma in the local API communities – and especially the Southeast Asian communities. Thus, the ValleyAPIMH project was born, with the goals of elevating the work of API mental health providers and addressing the mental health needs of the API communities they serve.