Past Projects

Asian Youth Mental Health Workshops: NWSS

2022: April 9th, April 23rd, May 7th

We hosted a workshop series that focused on the wellbeing of Asian students at New Westminster Secondary School, where mental health professionals presented coping strategies and accessible resources to students. Each speaker’s segment was focused on a specific theme–academic stress, microaggressions, or beauty standards, to name a few. Presentations ranged from informative lessons about the biological basis of mental health issues, to deeply moving recounts of childhood trauma and experiences with racism.

Most students that attended were of Asian heritage, but some came from different backgrounds and were simply interested in how they could support their peers. They left still having connected with the material that was shared, since some of it could be applied to their own lives as immigrants, as youth, or as individuals with tense familial dynamics. Even attendees that were already familiar with the ideas shared by speakers found solace in the fact that their existing feelings were being validated by an external source, since they had never received this support within their communities.

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This was a significant step towards mental health support without cultural or financial barriers in the New West community. Unlike some school presentations, emphasis was placed on creating a safe environment without also censoring certain content. This was a space for Asian youth to be completely open about the insecurities, hardships, and even the joys that come with their heritage.

The most fulfilling part of this project was seeing how students grew comfortable enough to share deeply personal experiences with each other, then watching them bond over the realisation that all of them were dealing with similar feelings. In a particular instance, one student brought up their struggles with sexuality in a strictly Catholic household–they were met with advice not only from the speaker running the session, but also from all those in attendance. These issues, if left unresolved, can have dire consequences for youth in crisis. Even though these workshops do not provide nearly enough support to be someone’s sole source of help, they are a starting point for so many other potential resources in schools and other communities.