Los Angeles, CA, April 8 – Growing up Vietnamese American to a family with disabilities and unhealed intergenerational trauma was something very eye opening for me. In my experience, mental health and disability are rarely discussed in our Vietnamese American cultural upbringing, and they are often seen as shameful. In fact, they were portrayed as a curse or bad luck. On my dad’s side of the family, showing any sort of emotions or opening up about our struggles would be seen as either a weakness or a threat. I have observed many comparisons and slights that my dad experienced for being disabled and different from his own relatives and siblings.
This was something very common among kids with immigrant parents, especially in Asian families. The stigma surrounding mental health and disability has been around for decades. The society we grew up in didn’t really prioritize or support mental health and disability. There was a lot of injustice, inaccessibility, and inequity to resources and opportunities. News and entertainment media at the time didn’t help to destigmatized this. Instead, it contributed to toxic masculinity and the idealization of physically strong looking male figures while continuing the narrative that anyone who looks or seen as different should be shamed upon or ostracized. [continue reading…]