During a month when we celebrate the legacy of Asian American Pacific Islanders, we also recognize mental health awareness.
A project between the University of Connecticut and the #IAmNotAVirus group focuses on both. The two organizations have partnered to create a mental wellness activity book for Asian Americans.
“It’s really about responding to an emerging crisis during the first wave of the pandemic,” said UConn associate professor of Asian and Asian American history and studies Dr. Jason Chang.
He said the book gives members of the AAPI community a chance to share their feelings at a time when they see more aggression towards their culture.
“The isolation and alienation combined with the kind of harassment and discrimination more widely felt across the country was really for this generation something they had never seen before,” Chang said.
The activity book contains historical lessons – documents from Asian American history that reflect other crises the community has faced. There are also literature snippets and feel-good messages that help the reader reflect on their own experiences.
“We also found that Asian Americans didn’t have a lot of experience talking about their experiences with racism,” Chang said. “The way literature and poetry can access these kinds of collective experiences, which we have as individuals, kind of validates those feelings.
Chang said the work on the mental wellness activity book is tied to the campaign for Asian American and Pacific Islander studies in Connecticut schools. He worked with the group Make Us Visible to defend House Bill 5282.
It requires all Connecticut school boards to include the AAPI program by the 2025-26 school year. State lawmakers passed the bill earlier this month, sending it to the governor’s office.