Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

Report: 65% Of Asian New Yorkers Experience Feelings Of Isolation Or Anxiety With Over A Third Of This Group Reporting Heightened Feelings Since Anti-Asian Hate Crisis Following Pandemic

First-of-its-kind Mental Health Report Details Mental Health Challenges and Barriers of Access to Mental Health Care in Asian American Communities and Offers Holistic Solutions and Recommendations for Government, Providers, and Organizations


NEW YORK, NY – The Asian American Federation (AAF) unveiled its new research report today, titled, “Seeking Help, Finding Hope: Mental Health Challenges and Solutions for Asian Americans in New York City.” According to the report, which is the first of its kind, far more Asian New Yorkers experience mental distress than the number who get mental health treatment, with many sources of distress unique to the Asian American community. AAF surveyed 543 Asian New Yorkers from 23 different ethnicities in 10 Asian languages to create the report.


AAF held a press conference today to report their findings and call on lawmakers to consider the unique cultural and linguistic barriers Asian Americans face when creating mental health care policies. After a significant uptick in anti-Asian hate and bias incidents following the COVID-19 pandemic and increased social isolation in recent years, mental health issues have significantly increased among Asian New Yorkers. This report from AAF bridges the gap in research and data on Asian mental health access in New York.


Key findings include:

  • 65% of Asian New Yorkers experience feelings of isolation or anxiety, with over a third of this group reporting that these feelings worsened due to the increase in anti-Asian hate incidents since the start of the pandemic.
  • Although over 80% of Asian Americans surveyed reported experiencing symptoms usually associated with mental distress, including persistent fatigue, insomnia, heart palpitations, headaches, and lack of appetite, only 45% of those individuals recognized the need to seek mental health support.
  • Unique to New York City, 44% of respondents cited the high cost of living in the city as a primary concern for their mental health.
  • The top barrier for Asian Americans to accessing appropriate and effective mental health services and treatment was a lack of information or misinformation.


Policy recommendations include:

  • To Improve mental health care access and services in the Asian American community, we will need a holistic approach that invests in expanding education, diversifying providers, and supporting community-based organizations.
  • The negative stigma around mental health in the Asian American community can be changed through culturally relevant educational programs and materials that raise awareness about mental health conditions, symptoms, and available support resources.
  • Investing in resources for in-language and culturally competent providers is crucial. Last year, the Asian American Federation rolled out a groundbreaking Mental Health Directory that features hundreds of providers who collectively speak over 17 Asian languages.
  • Community-based organizations (CBOs) that directly serve Asian Americans are trusted resources with an already established understanding of cultural norms, values, and beliefs within the community. With targeted funding and robust partnerships between providers and advocacy groups, CBOs can play a pivotal role as “cultural brokers” for Asian mental health services.


“Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams have both indicated that the mental health of New Yorkers is a top policy priority for them this year. This will be especially critical to Asian American communities after a years-long spree of increased anti-Asian hate. With this report, we hope to give lawmakers the proper information and tools to serve our communities, who face unique hurdles to accessing care, such as language barriers and cultural stigma,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “At the Asian American Federation, we look forward to working as partners with our elected leaders and the organizations directly serving our Asian communities in building a culturally appropriate, accessible, and effective system of mental health care for Asian New Yorkers. Thank you to the Korean American Community Foundation for making this report possible.”

“The identities that we hold affect not only our mental health, but our ability to access quality, culturally competent treatment. I’m grateful to the Asian American Federation for compiling this report to better inform policy to help us ensure that we are taking steps to make this care accessible for those who need it most,” said New York State Senator Samra Brouk, Mental Health Committee Chair. “Breaking stigma and expanding access to care is work that takes all of us, and together, we can create the change that New Yorkers deserve.”

“The report reveals the harsh reality that Asian New Yorkers face. Following the distressing years of the pandemic, during which anti-Asian racism and violence escalated to alarming levels, AAPI New Yorkers continue to bear the ongoing mental toll. A significant stigma persists around mental health issues, coupled with a lack of linguistically accessible treatment options,” said New York State Senator Iwen Chu. “To begin addressing the issue, we need to invest in broadening education and outreach, diversifying mental healthcare providers, and bolstering community organizations that offer services with language proficiency. This report comes at a pivotal moment for Asian-Americans and highlights a crisis that New York must not overlook.”

“Communities of color, including Black, Latine, and Asian communities in New York have been suffering from an increase in mental health burden due to racial inequity and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted their ability to be healthy. The report by the Asian American Federation is a call to action for the state legislature to support these neighbors and I’m proud to stand with them today to call for an investment in our state budget for a Communities of Color Mental Health Initiative. We need to increase access to mental health education, for mental health professionals, and do so in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. I thank the Asian American Federation, the Hispanic Federation, and Urban League for their support of this initiative and urge my legislative colleagues and Governor to support and fund this initiative. Mental health is health,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.

“In our pursuit of expanding access to comprehensive mental health care for all New Yorkers, it is critical that we acknowledge the diverse needs of every community in our city,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Asian American Federation’s report provides vital insight into challenges and barriers facing Asian New Yorkers that are too often overlooked. We must confront the negative stigma against seeking mental health care by investing in culturally-competent services and lean on community organizations already providing crucial services in our communities. I thank the Asian American Federation for shedding light on these issues and providing important recommendations to create a healthier, safer, and more compassionate future for all New Yorkers.”

“I applaud the efforts of the Asian American Federation that will help curate holistic solutions and treatment options to improve the well-being of AAPI New Yorkers across the city,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions. “According to AAF’s report, approximately 65 percent of Asian New Yorkers have experienced sentiments of anxiety and isolation, which have only worsened since the onslaught of anti-Asian hate attacks we have witnessed during the pandemic. Unfortunately, many supportive services often go under-utilized due to language barriers, lack of outreach, or because of the stigma related to accessing help regarding mental health in our communities. I am confident that this report will highlight additional measures our city can take to enhance service provision to ensure that individuals experiencing mental distress receive the appropriate care. Thank you to Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo and the research team at AAF for sharing these findings.”

“The Eric Adams administration is deeply committed to providing the support and resources needed to uplift New Yorkers struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health condition. Additionally, as AAF’s report articulates, we must continue to do all this work with cultural intelligence, language access, and partnerships that help us build trust in communities everywhere,” stated Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “We continue to elevate the issue of mental health through our city’s mental health plan called ‘Care, Community, Action,’ our partnership with TalkSpace offering free tele-mental health to all teenagers, and our action to hold social media companies accountable for their role in the mental health crisis. Lastly, we continue to fight for a fairer, more just, more equitable, and more affordable city conditions identified as underlying causes of mental health distress. Thank you to AAF for their advocacy and highlighting of this important issue.”

“I am honored to join the Asian American Federation in the announcement on the completion of their important research study ‘Seeking Help, Finding Hope: Mental Health Challenges and Solutions for Asian Americans in New York City’. As an appointed AAPI senior member in Mayor Adams’ administration and a mental health clinician, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with individuals and organizations in AAPI communities and understand deeply that even within these strong and resilient communities, many continue to face mental health challenges, highlighting the universal impact of mental health and the importance of consistent resources and support. This AAF study will provide mental health leaders valuable insights into not only the needs and barriers of one of the most diverse and fastest-growing communities in our city, but also responsive strategies that deserve attention and support,” said Eva Wong, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health. “Our administration is dedicated to enhancing mental health outcomes for all New Yorkers, with a particular focus on communities of color that have historically been underinvested in and marginalized. This commitment is especially crucial in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and enduring rise of anti-Asian hate. We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care, and that we need to address the systemic inequities and stigma that prevent many Asian Americans from seeking and receiving the support they deserve.”

“Our goal in funding this report was to catalyze discussions that will transform systems of care to better serve AAPI community members who are disproportionately affected by mental health issues yet continue to be overlooked,” said Kyung B. Yoon, President and CEO of the Korean American Community Foundation.


ABOUT AAF: The Asian American Federation (AAF) is the strongest leadership organization advocating for better policies, services, and funding that lead to more justice and opportunity for 1.5 million Asian New Yorkers. And we do this work in partnership with our 70 member and partner organizations. We represent the collective interests of Asian New Yorkers on issues of anti-Asian violence, mental health, economic empowerment, immigrant integration, and civic engagement. Our efforts ensure that the Asian community remains visible, our needs are addressed, our contributions are valued, and our stories are told. Find out more at www.aafederation.org.