BOARD OF EDUCATION TESTIMONY
AAMHI testified to the Montgomery County Board of Education to bring awareness of the problems faced by the Asian American community to the Board, hoping to create real change within the community. We were recognized by BoE member, Julia Yang. Here is the testimony:
Good afternoon Board! My name is Viveka Sinha, and I’m a rising junior at Montgomery Blair High School.
I’m here today to request the Board’s help with a crucial issue: Asian American mental health. The problems stem from the model minority myth, the harmful and dangerous stereotype that Asian Americans are innately perfect. I have been in magnet schools with predominantly Asian American students all my life, and I have noticed that this stereotype has put immense pressure on my peers and I to achieve perfection, with no room for errors or to request help.
This overburdening pressure leads to immense stress and poor mental health for Asian American students. Unfortunately, the model minority myth extends to expectations of perfect mental health, preventing Asian American students from seeking assistance through the existing avenues such as school counselors or therapists, for fear of judgment. The APA finds that Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services as the general population, which is why it’s crucial that we create a stigma-free pathway for the community to request help with mental health in schools.
Luckily, I have a 2-part solution. First, it’s crucial that we counter the model minority myth by spreading awareness of the issue. If all students understand the consequences of the judgment they impose, then we can begin to reduce the stigma. I have created pamphlets that contain the details of the problem, as well as what we should do to solve it. I would greatly appreciate the Board’s support in distributing these pamphlets in schools in Montgomery county.
Secondly, I request the Board’s help with sensitizing and training school counselors in addressing the model minority myth. Counselors turn away Asian American students when we ask for help, because they hold the damaging view that Asian Americans don’t need help. To solve this problem, I have gathered resources which contain information about how to best help Asian American students. I would greatly appreciate the Board’s help in encouraging counselors to utilize these resources.
The model minority myth wrecks Asian American students’ mental health and leaves us with no accessible avenue for receiving help. It’s critical we address this problem for the next school year, since it is only worsening now. I believe that utilizing the proposed 2-part solution, we can begin to heal as a community.
BOARD OF EDUCATION TESTIMONY #2
Our second testimony to the Board of Education focused on advocating for Asian American resources available to all MCPS students on the Safer Student App, as well as working toward a county-wide Asian American therapist available to students through a Zoom room. Here it is:
Good afternoon Board! My name is Viveka Sinha, and I’m a junior at Montgomery Blair High School.
Last summer, I asked the Board for help with Asian American mental health, an issue that stems from the model minority myth, the harmful and dangerous stereotype that Asian Americans are innately perfect. I have been in magnet schools with predominantly Asian American students all my life, and I have noticed that this stereotype has put immense pressure on my peers and I to achieve perfection, with no room for errors or to request help.
Last summer, I proposed a 2-part solution involving the distribution of the pamphlets I created to spread awareness about the model minority myth and the training of teachers and counselors. I’m glad to say that we did exactly that. I’m so grateful for the help from Mrs. Julie Yang, whom I interviewed as part of the presentation that was delivered to all 3200 students at Blair, after which I heard extremely positive feedback from both teachers and students. I’m requesting the Board’s assistance with distributing this presentation through the middle and high schools in Montgomery County.
Secondly, I know that my Asian American peers and I would benefit from a county-wide Asian American therapist that can relate to our issues and provide individualized guidance, which will also work towards reducing the stigma in asking for help. I propose that we have an online Zoom open for one day a week where any student who needs it can join to speak with this Asian American therapist. I’m working closely with the community organization, Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI), who are willing to provide one of their expert counselors. I would be very appreciative of the Board’s support in funding.
Thirdly, I, along with Blair’s amazing resource counselor, Mrs. Soriano, am organizing a panel of experts, which Mrs. Julie Yang has so kindly agreed to be a part of, to sensitize Asian American parents to the issues their children may be facing. Mrs. Soriano and I would greatly appreciate the Board’s help in pushing this great resource out to all Asian American parents in the county.
Lastly, I strongly believe that the Safer Student app is a wonderful resource for students and we should include a section for Asian American resources, which I would be happy to compile, in this app.
It’s critical we address the model minority myth since its impacts are only worsening now. I believe that we can begin to heal as a community by achieving these 4 simple steps.