Mental Health Matters: Changing Tides - Little Tokyo Service Center

Mental Health Matters: Changing Tides

Changing tides crew


Suicide is the leading cause of death among AAPI young adults. This statistic does not hold true for other racial groups in the United States. Since May is both AAPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, learn about what Changing Tides is doing to address our community’s mental health crisis.

There’s a big shame factor in the AAPI community and problems are encouraged to be kept within the family. Especially in families where the parents are immigrants, they really have no concept of therapy and counseling. It can go directly against their family’s values of keeping their family name spotless and not sharing their fears and weaknesses with others. So some of these young people don’t have their family’s support when it comes to getting help,” explained Marian Sunabe, intake coordinator at Changing Tides.

guest speakers share their stories at a previous ct event

Guest speakers share their experience with mental health at the Making Waves Mental Health Conference back in 2018.

Changing Tides has been striving to normalize mental health within the AAPI community since its first event almost 4 years ago.  Since then, the program has grown significantly, branching out to include workshops, forums, resource-building efforts and events. Changing Tides’ newest initiative, CT Stream, directly responds to the current mental health crisis impacting AAPI young adults, by breaking down barriers of access for therapy. These barriers can include finances, lack of support, and simply not knowing how to get therapy.

Getting help can be a difficult task for anybody, especially for first time therapy seekers.  CT Stream aims to make therapy accessible by providing a stipend for 6-10 free sessions and by making it easy for clients to find a good match with their therapist. Therapy seekers just need to request a stipend online for the program, speak with the intake coordinator, and select one of the therapists that the intake coordinator suggests. Each therapist comes from a list of recommended therapists pre-approved by CT Stream, most of whom are of Asian descent. Culturally sensitive therapy is important, as it allows clients to connect with and feel understood by their therapists.

“Some of our participants reported that they’ve tried therapy before at their schools, but they had a hard time connecting with the therapist. It really does help for Asian American young people to be able to speak with someone who shares their life experience to some degree. Although all therapists are trained in cultural competency, I think when the therapists themselves come from that background, it really helps that relationship be therapeutic right away,” said Marian.

matthew yonemura speaks at Changing Tides gala

Matthew Yonemura, Changing Tides Outreach Coordinator and host of The Changing Tides Podcast addresses the crowd at the Changing Tides Gala earlier this year.

After CT Stream’s stipend concludes, participants continue to receive support through peer support groups, subscriptions to wellness apps, referrals for ongoing therapy, and supplementary programming offered by Changing Tides.

“As far as receiving completely subsidized sessions for culturally sensitive therapy and follow up services that are built into the program, I don’t think there’s anything else like CT Stream. For someone to go alongside you and help you through this difficult period in your life, I feel like we’re saving lives,” Marian told us.

Participants completed an anonymous survey about their experience with the program. Most reported being ‘very satisfied’ with CT Stream, indicating that CT Stream helped to moderately improve their mental well being, and they were satisfied with the culturally sensitive mental health services provided.  Other findings from the survey concluded that financial need/insurance is the primary barrier to continuing therapy, and that ethnicity, gender, and cost are the primary factors when seeking out a therapist.

As Changing Tides continues to evolve to meet the needs of our community, accessible and culturally sensitive therapy remain essential to combating mental illness and suicidality in the AAPI community.

Update: Sacramento, CA, June 28, 2002- Changing Tides was named a 2022 Nonprofit Program of the Year by Assemblymember Alan Muratsuchi for their work supporting the mental health of young Asian Americans. Click here to read the full press release.

Support Changing Tides

give in may

Changing Tides is participating in the ‘Give in May’ campaign and needs your help building their community of supporters! Changing Tides can earn additional funds by having the highest number of unique donors during the month of May, so please consider donating to their ‘Give in May’ campaign through the ‘Give in May’ website. Whether it’s $5 or $500, every unique donor counts!

End the Stigma

In July, Changing Tides will be hosting Ripple Effect, a run/walk event to raise funds for Changing Tides and suicide prevention. Please consider walking or running with us to end the stigma around mental health in the AAPI community!

Walk with Us
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