+Collected Voices

+Collected Voices, a cross-campus initiative by Collected student ambassadors, is a compilation of mental health narratives by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) college students.

 

We aim to highlight the shared experiences as well as the diversities and intersectionalities within our community. Through this project, we hope to increase awareness of mental health needs in AAPI college students and foster conversations that destigmatize mental health conditions.

Please share your experience and thoughts about mental health in the AAPI community. Your stories will inform future programming for Collected workshops, helping us build a connected community of Asian American young adults who have the skills and knowledge to sustain healthy minds and relationships.

 

With your consent, your anonymous stories will be featured on our Instagram page and/or on the Collected website. We ask that you share your campus and year with us to be paired with your story.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Jennifer Wu at andcollected@gmail.com. Thank you for your participation!

The following topics are included as inspiration only and are not required in your submission. Some potential topics to reflect on include:  

+ parental pressures

+ the model minority myth

+ mental health stigma

+ imposter syndrome

+ familial relationships + traditional cultural values

+ discrimination due to racial or cultural background

+ defining a bicultural sense of self as Asian Americans

+ the perpetual foreigner stereotype

+Collected Voices Gallery

overwhelmed.png

"Growing up, I was a happy and carefree kid. I was never stressed about making friends or getting good grades. I never cared what other people thought about me. When I entered college, I felt my whole world turn upside down. I found myself comparing myself to the other students around me. I began playing a game of catch-up to get the same internships that everyone else was getting and reaching out to make connections with recruiters on Linkedin. I was constantly anxious about not landing a good internship for the next semester. I was constantly motivated by my anxiety, imagining for myself a future of unemployment and struggle so that I could get myself to sign up for another career fair.

Everything I was doing was motivated by the fact that I could have an extra bullet point on my resume. I was living my life while looking to the future, instead of taking my time to process and savour the experience of being a college student in New York. At this moment, I'm still actively working on finding a balance between making plans for the future and enjoying the present."

 

- Senior, Class of 2020, New York University

hopeful.png

"After years of suppressing my mental health struggles, I had a bad depressive episode during my first semester of college. Until this point, I never thought I'd ever need therapy. Talking to a professional about mental health was an unfamiliar concept to me, because prior to college, I wasn't close to anyone who saw a therapist. Going to therapy changed my life and taught me so many valuable coping skills and tools. Because of this experience, I started to openly talk to my friends and family about mental health. I also became a strong advocate for therapy, especially to my friends who never considered it before."

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, Wesleyan University

Overwhelmed + Collected

“I just started therapy every week I think I'm learning a lot about myself. Difficult to follow the advice though. Recruiting is rough and I feel mentally and physically drained based off self-imposed pressure.”

 

- Junior, Class of 2022, Baruch College

“In my competitive Asian high school, everyone was pressured into overachieving in every way just to get into a top-ranked college. Because of this pressure, many students had engrained their self worth so deeply in their achievements that they would glorify sacrificing their physical and mental health. I ended up overtaxing myself trying to be like my peers. By junior year, I rarely came to school and had little contact with anyone beside close friends. I almost failed a class my senior year because I couldn’t get myself to go to finals week. During my time in therapy, I realized just how much my health suffered because of my mindset and environment. Since my family and my peers avoided talking about mental health, I never realized how important it was. And since mental health issues became so normalized in high school, no one really reached out to each other and asked what was wrong. Finally, I realized that I was contributing to the stigma by keeping quiet about it. From this experience, I’ve learned the importance of putting my health first and setting realistic goals that let me keep myself physically and mentally well.”

 

- Junior, Class of 2022, Bucknell University

“I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist. Starting at a young age, I strived to get the highest marks on exams and rank at the top of my class. My parents never pressured me to get straight A’s, but it just seemed to be a mindset I adopted without conscious volition. Anything I did could always be done better, and somehow, I started to put myself down in order to push myself forward. This was my way of navigating the world and of, ironically, avoiding disappointment. It wasn't until college that I began to recognize my unhealthy habits and actively work towards change. The term "mental health" once felt foreign and far away until recently. When I try to make sense of it today, I can see the places where academic success was praised and where failure was criticized in my life; I'm ultimately the product of a greater mentality that has bled into mine. Although I still struggle with what I consciously know to be true—that I'm not defined by my achievements—I'm grateful for the small steps I can take towards a healthier mindset.”

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, Hunter College

Annoyed + Collected

“Coming from a Chinese background, mental health was rarely acknowledged. Anxiety would be dubbed as an excuse for lack of knowledge or depression would be brushed off as not being the best of the best. It was super frustrating to constantly be disregarded which i believe in turn, results in a more serious mental health diagnosis”

 

 - Junior, Class of 2022, Baruch College

“As a Chinese adoptee, my experience with Asian American racial identity has always been complicated. Growing up in Queens, NY, although I wasn't raised in an Asian American household, I was still able to make many Asian American friends. I cherished all of these friendships, but I also often felt disconnected from them -- I couldn't share their languages, foods, holidays, music, or TV shows. Asian American narratives often leave out the stories of adoptees, and for a long time I've wrestled with finding a place for myself within the Asian American community where I could feel accepted, and not like I was an imposter. At times, it feels turbulent: internally, I try to understand how to legitimize my Chinese American identity as an adoptee, but on the outside, with the appearance of a Chinese girl, all of the stereotypical expectations and associations of being from this category are constantly thrown back in my face. Sometimes this tension even led me to feel resentful towards my Chinese heritage, but as I get older and slowly learn more about Chinese language and culture, I am hopeful that one day I can maintain a healthy relationship with and understanding of my Chinese identity.”

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, Georgetown University 

“Fortunately, my family is very open with one another and understands the importance of mental health because of its great impact on one's overall well-being. I understand that in most Asian cultures, mental health is not thought of as a ‘real illness’ and may even be taboo to speak about. I’m so hopeful to see how perspectives are beginning to change and how mental health is now becoming recognized and emphasized as a very real and very disabling factor in someone’s life. I’m very optimistic in the steps being taken to bring awareness to the unique presentations of mental illnesses today. Although this may be a difficult topic to speak about, having the necessary information accessible to those who may be feeling so overwhelmed, isolated, or hopeless can connect them to receive help they need. As humans wanting to help other humans, we must continue to advocate for a good, healthy mental state of being and recognize that mental illnesses are as real as any physical illness.”

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, Hunter College

“My experience with mental health as I grew older became worse. A lot of the stress comes from not knowing what I wanted to do, career wise, and being worried all the time about how I would be viewed by my peers. The best way I relieved some of the stress, was coming to terms with my problems. Some of it was personally coming to terms with it, and some of it was knowing that I had friends and family who support me no matter what. Knowing at the back of your mind that there are people who accept you for who you are is very comforting.”   

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, Baruch College 

Insecure + Collected

“I get anxiously really easily, and sometimes I'll be really angry at myself if something doesn't go with my will or if I fail to complete something. My anxieties sometimes come from races too. As an international student who barely faced any racial discrimination before in my mother country, even though I get used to American society, I would still be nervous, scared, and anxious whenever I see any hate crimes (whether on Asians or other races).”  

 

- Senior, Class of 2021, New York University

Out of Control + Collected

“I'm an Asian-American woman with depression and anxiety. My 2nd gen status has definitely had a role in my mental illnesses, mainly to minimize and repress them due to language barriers with family and a general disregard of communicating emotions or conflict.”

 

 - Senior, Class of 2021, New York University 

Mad + Collected

"I went to my school’s counseling center about an experience with sexual violence, and they recommended I get counseling outside of the University’s services if I could afford it because the University was overloaded. I asked if they could recommend some therapists to me, and at first they assumed I would want a female therapist because of my experiences, they apologized when I corrected them that I just wanted the best. I saw the first therapist on the list they gave me, an old white Jewish man, who said that 'Indian people are good at math and science, but bad at emotions,' and managed to mention that his wife was Asian in the process. I laughed along as if he was Hasan Minhaj talking about brown people, but he wasn’t, and I never went back to that therapist. I’m happy to say I found a much, much, better one on the app MyWellbeing. What bugs me most is the un-factualness of the stereotype he repeated to me. Yes, the Indian engineers and doctors got visas to the US easier, but my people are poets and artists. My cultural heritage has a lot to say about processing emotions."

 

- Sophomore, Class of 2023, New York University