A colleague recently described feeling “frayed around the edges,” and it resonated with me deeply. For those of you who feel the same, we each have our own reasons. At times like these–when we’re at our most vulnerable–representation and acknowledgment matter.
In May, we celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Widespread recognition of this month and increased representation in popular media have been a revelation for me. Growing up as an Asian-American, it was a fact of life to accept many things that I would only later realize made me feel “other.” It took being able to see people like myself on screen and putting a name to my experiences to help me understand how I was affected.
May was also Mental Health Awareness Month, and my experience makes me especially grateful as Panorama works with partners of The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, including Asian Health Services and Partners in Development Foundation, which provide culturally responsive care for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. And I am inspired by youth across the country, like those we supported at the recent Mental Health Youth Action Forum at The White House, who are leading by example to advance change.
We also saw more devastating mass shootings that some—most of whom are not health professionals—are quick to attribute to mental illness. They point blame to a system that is not equipped to support a growing crisis and deepen stigma for those who live with a mental health condition or illness. But to reduce gun violence to a single cause ignores real and complex systems challenges including inequity, racism, access to health care, and the policies that impact them. So, I’m also grateful that The Ascend Fund and its partners support the development of the leaders who might better represent me, and each of us, in enacting policy change.
At Panorama, we have a bias towards action and a belief that we achieve more when we partner with others. Moving forward from the month of May, I hope that each of you will follow the example of our youth leaders and partners—take action for your own mental health, support issues that matter to you, and use your vote to hold elected officials accountable for taking action—or run for office yourself. And reach out to encourage a partner to join you.