Everyone may not live with mental illness, but everyone has mental health.
During our time in college, a group of four Changing Tides founding members first connected through UCLA’s Nikkei Student Union. What began as typical college conversations about school, friendships, activities gradually evolved to cover deeper topics such as mental health and its intersections with our cultural identity.
While we were fortunate to have many on-campus organizations devoted to mental health, we sensed a need for spaces that were specifically for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) folks. These candid conversations about mental health had become such an integral part of our overall health that we desired to extend these dialogues to the broader community.
After connecting with staff at Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), we began meeting with an intergenerational group of community members to discuss our personal experiences and views of mental health. In these initial gatherings, we quickly discovered generational differences in terms of the “right” way to approach the topic of mental health. Through facing the stigma head-on, this series of honest, often challenging discussions resulted in a beautiful event incorporating art, music, storytelling, and the beginning of an open dialogue that continues to this day.
Our name, Changing Tides, which emerged from that inaugural event, is reflective of our desire to transform the way mental health is viewed, especially within the AAPI community. As a program of LTSC, Changing Tides now consists of the youth-driven CT Crew, an intergenerational Advisory Committee, and a Mental Health Advisory Board. Over the years, we have been fortunate to hold a series of events to increase mental health awareness, such as a youth paint night, an art exhibition, and a day-long conference. We draw so much inspiration from the strength and resilience of the individuals and families that we meet, and it empowers us to continue our work in stigma reduction.
While this pandemic has been full of challenges, one silver lining has been noticeable strides forward in the realm of mental health. We have witnessed communities come together in new ways to support one another through periods of racial tension, social isolation, and financial hardship. We have seen greater prioritization of self-care and rest. We have heard folks advocate for greater mental health awareness in the media and their daily lives.
With this increased awareness and dialogue, we understand that there are still barriers such as stigma, finances, accessibility, and language. While these factors are part of a larger conversation, Changing Tides is committed to continuing initiating dialogues, fostering community, and connecting folks to resources that support their mental well-being.
Every other Saturday from May 22nd-July 31st, we will be hosting our second year of Changing Tides Cafes. These cafes are a space for people to grab a beverage, hop on a Google Meet call, and chat about the topic of the week that is related to mental health. We hope to transition into in-person meetings for the summer months, so please check our social media for details!
We also recently launched a podcast where we invite guests from various professions, backgrounds, and experiences to chat about their mental health journeys. Everyone has such a unique story to share, and these episodes can resonate with or encourage you in some way. New episodes are released every other Tuesday at midnight, so hit the follow or subscribe button on your favorite streaming platform to stay updated.
This year has underscored the importance of mental health and having others to lean on for support. Whether it be with family members, close friends, or even the broader AAPI community, we hope you find spaces where you can share openly. We hope you can find this space within Changing Tides.
Let’s continue to change the tides on mental health one conversation at a time.
Changing Tides is apart of #GiveinMay, a nationwide giving campaign to support the work of AAPI nonprofits. You can help Changing Tides receive a bonus if they have the most unique donations by the end of May. Give HERE and spread the word!
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