masaaki-komori flowers

Table Talk YouTube Series: Mental Health and Stigma in the Asian American Pacific Islander Community

By Shawn Pham, MSW, LSWAIC

This is a gathering of clinicians and community members with lived experiences discussing their perspectives and experiences on mental health, trauma, and racial tensions in the Asian American Pacific Islander community. This prerecorded table talk will be an intimate conversation where each member shares their perspectives on life as we address myths and stereotypes in the AAPI community around mental health. ERC and Pathlight are proud to partner with OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates and Nancy Xiong, a community advocate and organizer in the Hmong community, to bring you this series.

YouTube Video Series will be available to view May 24.

Shawn Pham, MSW, LSWAIC is a member of the Alumni and Family Liaison Team with Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight. He supports alumni, families, and community members from our Washington and California programs. Shawn previously worked as a Program Therapist in our residential Mood & Anxiety Pathlight program in Bellevue Washington. With his training at Northwest Creative & Expressive Arts Institute and being a clinical social worker, Shawn specializes in using creative arts therapies in mood and anxiety treatment and the recovery path beyond. Shawn is passionate in instilling hope by teaching people how to play again and expressing themselves through creative outlets.

When Shawn isn’t working, he spends his time traveling and learning about new cultures. During his six months stay in Tokyo, Japan, Shawn volunteered at an international conversation lounge where he psycho-educated Japanese university students and international students on culture shock, cultural barriers, and challenges that come with life transitions. Shawn continued staying engaged as a global citizen by staying connected with friends and colleagues he made abroad by traveling to new destinations with them every year. When he is not traveling, Shawn enjoys his free time creating art, practicing music, and figure skating at his local ice rink.

Written by

Crystal Chen

Crystal Chen is a board-certified Creative Arts Therapist, currently working at Washington Eating Recovery Center as a Primary Therapist on the children & adolescent team. Previously she worked with Chinese speaking women and children victims of gender-based and intimate partner violence. She is an advocate for women's rights and advocates for greater awareness of mental health among the AAPI community. She has spoken at two United Nations Parallel NGO CSW conferences in New York, at the 4th World Conference of Women's Shelter in Taiwan, most recently in January 2021 at the ACS Human Trafficking Conference in New York and is a Pratt Taconic Fellow. With her Pratt Taconic Fellowship, she developed an art therapy program, known as Garden of Gems, a project that combines art therapy with jewelry making to provide a sense of community and economic empowerment for Chinese immigrant women.

Written by

Wynona Susilo

Wynonna (she/her) is a Chinese-Indonesian woman who is passionate about the intersectionality between racial and cultural identities and mental health. She completed her master’s degree in clinical counseling and art therapy from Adler University in Chicago. She is currently working with adults with mood and anxiety disorders at Pathlight in Seattle. Wynonna identifies as a Third Culture Kid (TCK); she was born and raised in Indonesia, moved to Singapore during her high school years, and immigrated to the United States in the pursuit of higher education. As a TCK, she experiences the complexities of holding multiple cultural identities that play a role in her sense of self and belonging within a community, which are essential factors to her mental well-being. Growing up, mental health was a highly stigmatized topic within her family and communities. Wynonna learned about the importance of mental health during her college years, and this sparked her interest in pursuing a career within the field. She is passionate about advocating for BIPOC’s mental health through community engagement and outreach.

Written by

Nancy Xiong

Nancy was named after former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, as a symbol of democracy after her parents resettled in the United States as Hmong refugees from Laos.

Growing up, she drove her mother through crazy adventures and was known as "siab coob" or many hearts/ having many interests. She's a dreamer at heart with goals after another.

Moving away to college, Nancy started a journey discovering and learning/unlearning about her Hmong American identity as a child of Hmong war refugee parents. The puzzle pieces started to connect when she found herself in graduate school being challenged to look at herself as a first generation, cisgender Hmong American female. Her professors and mentors took her on board to look at the world through the lens of solidarity, diversity, and inclusion. They also emphasized the importance of knowing your family history and yourself.

Nancy has worked in higher education where she plans programs and events, advises and fearlessly teaches young folks on issues of social justice, women and gender issues and healthy relationships. Nancy has incorporated storytelling using different mediums which has been a healing tool in her classes and workshops as well as her community work. Currently, she is a community organizer working with the Hmong community in St. Paul, Minnesota in building community wealth.

Additionally, Nancy has extensive experience in the field of gender-based violence as an educator, advocate and researcher for the last 10 years at the local, national and international level. One common thread that she has found in her work is that in any kind of traumatic experience, a person’s mental health, well-being and healing process is an on-going journey. Through her own healing journey, she has discovered arts, crafts, writing and storytelling to be powerful tools to move beyond the pain to live an authentic and well-being life.

Nancy holds a master’s degree in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations and Sociology with a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. She enjoys spending time with her family, running around with her nieces and nephews and making art.

Aarati’s approach in therapy is inspired from a multicultural, strength based and trauma informed lens. In addition, she provides special insights on issues with diversity such as acculturation, immigration, resettlement etc. and its correlation with mental health.

Mabel Menard is the President for OCA Greater Chicago, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the economic, professional, and social well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the Greater Chicago area.

Eating Recovery Center is accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

Joint Commission Seal