Harvard has new mental health program for Asian American women

A new mental health initiative at Harvard University—part group therapy, part research study—will focus on Asian American women.

Called Asian Women’s Action for Resilience and Empowerment (AWARE), the program was launched in September with help from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health student Jenny Hsi, DrPH ’18, according to an October 31, 2018 Harvard Crimson article. The program, created by Hyeouk “Chris” Hahm, a Boston University professor, was recently launched at both BU and Wellesley College.

Hahm told the Crimson that she started AWARE because Asian Americans are less likely to seek mental health treatment than other racial groups, yet they often experience stress related to high-pressure environments. In addition, she said there is little existing research on Asian American women’s mental health issues, such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

Hsi worked with Harvard University Health Services to implement the program at Harvard. AWARE provides group therapy sessions that focus on topics such as parenting styles, body image, discrimination, sex, and substance abuse.

“Part of the reason why we are offering this as a group experience, and not as an individual experience, is also because getting people who may have similar or resonant experiences together in a room often helps validate people’s experiences and difficulties,” Hsi said.

Read the Harvard Crimson article: Mental Health Initiative for Asian-American Women Comes to Harvard