Seize the Narrative: Revolutionary AAPI Authors on AAPI Mental Health

Jenny Wang and Sahaj Kaur Kohli are pioneering figures in addressing Asian mental health. Read on to learn about how they’re paving the path for the AAPI community, aiding them in their health journey.

Author's Corner Diverse Voices Lifestyle Wellness
Authors Jenny Wang and Sahaj Kaur Kohli pictures are overlaid on their wellness books' covers. On a muted red background, bright red flowering stems frame the photo.

The recent awareness and wealth of mental health knowledge have created a greater sense of understanding and empathy within society and fostered healing on a never-before-seen individual level. But, what messages of awareness miss are how factors such as race, gender, or class influence one’s mental health. Mainstream mental health messages and exercises are often inaccessible and lack the intersectional knowledge crucial to healing for people of color.

People of color must balance and cope with racial trauma and stereotypes, historical and sustained marginalization, and fitting into and honoring different cultures, religions, and staying true to themselves as well as family traditions. The individual effort to maintain one’s mental health, as well as leading the healing work in their communities, in itself, takes a toll. For Asian Americans, they are half as likely to seek out mental health services compared to other demographics. Beginning the conversation of culturally competent care for Asian Americans are remarkable authors Jenny Wany and Sahaj Kaur Kohli, whose experiences, vulnerability, and expert opinion are opening doors for Asian Americans to take the first steps toward healing.

Permission to Come Home: Reclaiming Mental Health as Asian Americans by Jenny Wang, Ph.D.

In Permission to Come Home, the first book by a mental health professional specifically written for the Asian American community, Dr. Jenny Wang, whose @asiansformentalhealth account on Instagram led the launch of a wellness movement within the AAPI community, takes us on an empowering journey toward reclaiming our mental health.

Book jacket for Permission to Come Home: Reclaiming Mental Health as Asian Americans by Jenny Wang, Ph.D..

Weaving her personal narrative as a Taiwanese American, together with her insights as a clinician and evidence-based tools, Dr. Jenny explores a range of life areas that call for attention, offering readers the permission to question, feel, rage, say “no,” take up space, choose, play, fail, and grieve. Above all, she offers permission to return closer to home, a place of acceptance, belonging, healing, and freedom. For Asian Americans and Diaspora, this book is a necessary road map for the journey to wholeness.

But What Will People Say?: Navigating Mental Health, Identity, Love, and Family Between Cultures by Sahaj Kaur Kohli, MAEd, LGPC

Writer and therapist Sahaj Kaur Kohli, the force behind the influential Instagram account @browngirltherapy, grew up knowing exactly what it meant to straddle multiple cultures at once. Like many children of immigrants, she often found herself plagued by questions: Can I establish my own values and embrace where I come from? Is prioritizing my mental health really rejecting my culture? How do I set boundaries and care for myself when family and community mean everything? Even after becoming a therapist herself, she saw those same gaps in the mental health world, leading her to wonder, like so many children of immigrants: what about us?

Book jacket for But What Will People Say?: Navigating Mental Health, Identity, Love, and Family Between Cultures by Sahaj Kaur Kohli, MaEd, LGPC.

But What Will People Say? elegantly weaves together personal narrative, anecdotal analysis, and comprehensive research. Sahaj offers advice and tools for everything from navigating generational trauma, guilt, and boundaries to breaking down stigmas around therapy and celebrating cultural duality. Democratizing and decolonizing the way we think about mental health and self-help, Sahaj’s incredible work is nothing short of a revolution.

For Asian Americans, these books are essential to those hesitant to take control of their health, providing them with the tools, confidence, and encouragement to break away from the multi-faceted barriers holding them back. Dr. Jenny Wang and Sahaj Kaur Kohli are empowering a new generation to rewrite their narratives and restructure the perspective from which mental health is viewed. For those outside of the AAPI community, educating themselves through the above books fosters a diverse, inclusive perspective, furthering the cross-cultural understanding of our peers. Cultural competence is vital to closing the racial and socioeconomic disparities gap, dismantling stigma and stereotypes, and is a crucial catalyst in creating a safe, inclusive future.

Infographic for the Asian American Book Club's Wellness Workshop with Jenny Wang and Sahaj Kaur Kohli.

To discuss the invaluable works of these authors, join the Asian American Book Club’s Wellness Workshop on May 13, 2024, at 345 Adams Street at Willoughby Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn.

Find Jenny Wang here.

Find Sahaj Kaur Kohli here.

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