Written By Step Above Stigma's Summit Team Logistics Coordinator, Natalee Schors
One day near the start of first semester I thought it was going to be a regular night. I was on top of what I had needed to get done for school, clubs, and work, along with fitting in time to exercise and socialize. I thought I had it all under control, but little did I know was that all the stress that comes with daily life was about to overwhelm me.
This specific night, I had just sat down in bed to watch Netflix. After not even two minutes, I felt the unrelenting need to do something, anything that did not require me to stare mindlessly into my laptop screen. I went to my desk to start doing some work for classes instead. Again, it was around two minutes when I lost all focus. I decided at that point I should organize my closet. For a third time, I was only a couple minutes into folding my clothes when I felt so wired and jittery that I had to stop. I started pacing around my room. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and I could not inhale enough oxygen into my lungs. I wanted to cry because it felt like I needed to get something out but I couldn’t. I went out onto the little balcony just off my room feeling that fresh air would fix my problem. It helped only the slightest bit. I still was unable to take deep breaths nor could I get my heart rate to slow. It was at that moment I decided I had to breathe or else I would pass out. I am a runner at heart and have always gone on runs simply because I enjoy them. So, I decided that even though it was the middle of the night, I had to run that instant. I threw on my running shoes and left my house in a rush. I thought that if I could not fully breathe, I needed to force my body to.
I left my house in a sprint. Trying to run as hard as I could so that I would take full gulps of fresh air into my lungs. Run. Run. Run. That was all I could think. With each stride, every time my foot hit the hard pavement, I felt a bit better. My breaths were deepening and I could feel my lungs fully expand with air. I kept running for a while. My thoughts slowed down and eventually I slowed too. I looped back around to my house and when I went inside I immediately felt better. Both my heart rate and breathing were returning to normal. I went back upstairs to my room and went to bed - falling asleep almost instantly.
The next day I woke up and went about my day, trying to block out my feelings from the night before. Later that afternoon, I called my mom and told her about what had happened. I have had anxiety attacks before, but I had never experienced one that came out of the blue so suddenly. Of course, my mom was worried when I told her; not only was I experiencing such an attack but also I had left my house in the middle of the night in a state of panic. Running has always been an amazing coping mechanism for me. It grounds me in a way that nothing else can and gives me a sense of physical joy. Physical activity has been proven to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety, and it is something that helps so many people. However, at that moment I realized that even though I was using a great coping strategy for daily stress, that there were better ways of handling my anxiety attack. I realized that I couldn’t out run my anxious thoughts, and instead, I could talk to my amazing supports about them. My mom was able to calm me down and helped me see that I had a great support system that I could speak to at any time, whether it be calling someone or talking to my Kingston friends, and who would be there for me during these episodes as a safer alternative.
Today I still am always running because I know it helps me deal with the stressors of being a student during a pandemic. Although, I know that I cannot out run my anxiety now and face it with the support of others. So thank you to all my wonderful friends and family who have helped me through.
Written by Step Above Stigma's Social Media Director, Riley Chang
Hearing that the first half of this semester was going to be fully online was completely disappointing and discouraging for me. I know a lot of students feel the same. I thought this would be a good time to talk about mental health related to the pandemic and online school.
I know COVID-19 has affected everyone's mental health in different ways, but today I wanted to list a couple things that have helped my mental health so far throughout the pandemic, from 2019 to today!
1. Get Outside
Online classes means it is super easy to stay in your house for multiple days in a row, and Kingston weather doesn’t make it any easier! Last semester, I definitely had streaks of multiple days where I didn’t leave my apartment because with all my classes online, I had no reason to! This was tricky for me because it wasn’t super obvious or sudden, but it definitely started to affect my mental health. Since then, I have started to go for daily walks, even if it is just for 10 minutes, and it has really helped. Fresh air and a bit of exercise always makes me feel more awake and alert!
2. Take a Break
For me, the biggest thing with online classes is that I feel like I never have a break. Right now, I am studying from home in BC, and I think the combination of being home and fully online classes makes me less productive, so I feel like I have to be working non-stop to get all my schoolwork done for the week and not fall behind! Compared to a “regular” school semester, where I would have weekend plans to look forward to, at home it sometimes feels like I have school 7 days a week! This is obviously draining and not great for my mental health, so I have been trying to take some time off during weekends to relax and spend time with family or friends who are also home in BC due to online school. I definitely don’t take as much time off as I would want, but I am trying to do better and put my mental health first!
3. Ask for Help
A lot of people who maybe hadn't struggled with mental health in the past started struggling during the pandemic. I definitely saw this in myself and in a lot of people I am close to. It can be scary when you don't know how to deal with or understand new feelings or emotions. I want to remind everyone reading this that there are always people who want to support you! PLEASE reach out to family, friends, or other mental health services! These are new and scary times, and you deserve to have the support you need!
These are just three things that have personally helped me a lot, but for more tips and resources you can take a look at our Linktree and Instagram.
Written by Step Above Stigma's Budget Director, Maddie Carew
This is a letter to my 16-year-old self, a person who was unbelievably lost trying to cope with her mental illness. It was one of the darkest and most terrifying times of my life and I spent a lot of time resenting the girl I used to be. I’ve realized that while my past experiences will always be a part of me, they don’t define me. So here I am, telling my younger self all the things I couldn’t say at 16.
Dear 16-year-old Maddie,
It’s been a while since we talked. It’s the middle of November and I’m lying in bed, unable to sleep because I can’t stop thinking about you. I have spent countless hours trying to get you out of my head, mostly because the thought of you makes me angry. It makes me angry that you treated yourself so poorly and that you thought you didn’t matter. I’m angry because being you is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, you dug us into a dark hole and left a mess for the future Maddie’s to clean up. But I’m not writing you this letter to vent my frustrations, I’m writing because I have something to say, and I think you are the person who needs to hear it the most.
I know you. You are a smart, witty, and caring person. You’re strong, resilient, and independent. These are all qualities that shine through for the world to see. But I also know the part of you that nobody else sees. The dark and twisted interior that you hide behind the mask you wear to face the world. I know that, more often than not, you feel worthless, defeated, and alone. You think that there is something wrong with you because you’re depressed and anxious all the time. Being you is physically and emotionally draining because you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and don’t recognize the person staring back at you. I know that you feel like a shadow of a human being and that you hate yourself for what you’re going through. And, I’m also well aware that all the things I just stated are things you know too. But there are so many things that you don’t know yet, and that’s okay because I’m here to tell you what I wish someone had told me when I was you.
So here it goes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You harbor so much guilt and shame, believing that you are actively choosing to feel the way you feel and think the thoughts you do. But the reality of it is that you are sick, and that is not something to be ashamed of. It’s hard, when you’re in the middle of what feels like a never-ending spiral into nothingness, to open your eyes and see that you are not alone. To see that people won’t think less of you because you’re struggling with mental illness. The way you feel is, and always will be, valid. You are allowed to feel numb, and scared, and sad, and angry. But what I can no longer let you do is shoulder the blame. The journey from where you are at 16, to where I am now at 21 was anything but easy and I won’t lie and say that it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. There are still days where I can’t get out of bed, where I cry myself to sleep, or where I see no end to all of the pain I feel. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat, and I will continue on this journey, because it means I have learned to say the words you never would have said to yourself - you are important and worthy of a happy life.
Most importantly, I want to say the three words you deserve and need to hear. I love you. You are a part of me, and I am who I am today because of you, not in spite of you. Life is hard and bumpy and imperfect, but I promise that you, and all the Maddie’s of the past, present, and future, are worth the ride.
All my love,
Written by Step Above Stigma's Events Director, Melissa Lo
Often, our mind can be in a rut with thoughts circling back to us non-stop. It can be really hard to 1, notice negative thought patterns, and 2 put a stop to them. However, it is very empowering to know that we do have control of our thoughts, and we get to decide which thoughts grow and which thoughts we let go of. Personally, I struggle with ruminating on negative thoughts because I have an urge to understand things, but it often leaves me feeling drained. It is draining to feed into thoughts that do not lead to growth. It is draining to feed into thoughts that circle back around. But with practice, and time, you can learn to consciously choose your thoughts. There is a fine line between healthy thinking and ruminating – the first step is being able to distinguish between the two. Reflecting is an important part of growth, it allows you to recognize your strengths, and to recognize areas you can work on. You know you are engaging in healthy thinking when you feel like it is leading to new insights and new perspectives – it just feels right. On the flip side, ruminating often involves going over the same thought over and over without it leading anywhere. It drains you rather than empowers you. Once you notice these thought patterns it will become easier to differentiate which thoughts are good for and which thoughts are bad for you. From there, you can consciously decide to invest in certain thoughts. Every thought that pops into your head doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Sometimes thoughts will just pass by, it’s the one’s we cling onto that we allow to strengthen. Being able to tell ourselves that certain thoughts are not worth investing in will take time, but it is worth it! You truly get to choose which thoughts to follow, and which thoughts to let pass. I once heard a meditation that gave a great analogy and was talking about growth mindset. A growth mindset is recognizing that we as humans are constantly growing. We grow from our experiences, and we grow from our mistakes. We are not restricted to be anything other than who we wish to be. In this meditation, they paralleled our thoughts to a garden. Sometimes there are weeds that we must tend to (our negative thoughts). They won’t go away right away, but with time there will be less. If you keep watering the weeds however, they will come back time and time again. But once you start planting the right seeds, they will grow, and you will see more of what you want in your garden in the future. So, you get to choose, what do you want to see in your garden?
Written by Step Above Stigma's Events Director, Alexx Gibeau
After 4 years of hard work, late night library crams & fun nights out, graduating university marks a significant milestone and transition into a new chapter of your life. But along with that comes fear and anxiety about what’s next. A real adult job? Grad school? Travelling? A different degree?
In my first weeks as a fourth year, my professors and peers have asked “what are your plans for next year?” When I was in grade 12 and was asked the same question, I was excited and proud of my plans. Now that question makes me panic. “Is grad school for me?”, “Do I write the LSAT?”, “Is teacher’s college still an option?” “Should I go to college?” “Do I have a good enough resume?
When you are forced to answer these questions you are also forced to think about who you want to be moving forward. I have been a student since I was 5 years old. The thought of leaving academics to be an actual member of society, expected to know who I am and what I want is scary when my identity has been “student” for so long.
Quite frankly the thought of graduating is terrifying. I know that I am not alone in this feeling but I also don’t know how to manage it. It seems like nobody talks about how stressful it is to figure out what you want to do, apply for jobs and/or grad school, all while managing a full course load and ensuring you have good enough grades for grad school to be an option.
Although I know very little and haven’t figured it all out yet, here are a few things I’ve done to help try to manage graduation anxiety.
1. Talk to professors about your options
Most professors are willing to help walk you through masters applications or the job search. You just have to ask for help. The more information you have the
2. Talk to your friends
Many of your friends and peers are going through the same thing.
3. Don’t compare yourself to your peers
It’s so easy to look around and measure yourself against those around you but you don’t take into account that your goals and hopes aren’t always the same as those around you.
4. Let yourself off the hook
You don’t have to have everything figured out. Cut yourself some slack. You’ll get where you are supposed to in your own time.
Written by Step Above Stigma's Chapter's Director, Jillian Wood
Let’s talk about burn out. Since we were kids, September has always been an exciting month. Back to school, back to friends, back to something to do. The leaves start to change color and with that comes all of us heading back into the swing of things. After a hopefully relaxing summer, this can be especially hard to do. Suddenly there’s school, work and a social life to balance and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and our mental health. We work too hard and end up in a place that’s difficult to get out of. This year, let’s change that. After experiencing burnout myself, I’ve found four different ways that have helped to both prevent and treat the effects of burnout.
1. Take “me time” seriously.
When we realize that we need a little “me time”, it’s easy to brush it off and continue working but this is when you need to put your foot down. “Me time” is important! Working yourself to the bone helps no one and you’ll soon find that you’re no longer putting in the quality of work that you hope to. One way I make sure that I take this time seriously is to literally schedule it in. On Sunday’s when I am putting my schedule together for the week I make sure that I have a designated time to recharge. Whether this be a bubble bath in between classes, taking a jog or just laying in bed watching Netflix after a long day. Taking time for yourself looks different for everyone but the important thing is that you do it!
2. Know your limit and play within it.
Understand the signs of needing a break. These signs are different for everyone but it’s important that you recognize them within yourself. Begin to observe yourself throughout the week and take note! Maybe you’re more irritated than usual or you find yourself dozing off in a lecture, whatever the signs may be, take them seriously. This is your body telling you that you need to slow down. Once you are able to identify these signs, set yourself some boundaries. This can look like heading home early from the library, saying no to staying later at work, or just staying in on a Friday night. Now that you know your limit, it’s crucial to stay within it and advocate for yourself.
3. Talk to friends or family.
Sometimes with burnout you just have no idea where to start. I’m here to tell you that the first step is to talk to someone. This could be a friend, a parent or just someone you trust but whoever they are, pick up the phone and call. You never know how much talking things out will help until you hang up the phone. I find that whenever I’m really feeling the effects of burnout, the best person to call is my Mom. No matter the problem she is always able to help me find the perspective I need to reflect and reorganize. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
4. Be kind to yourself.
Lastly, you deserve to be nice to yourself. Everyone has hard days, weeks, months etc. but remember that you’re not alone in this and that it’s okay to be down. If you’re able to be mad at yourself, you’re more than capable of being kind to yourself, so recognize your achievements and celebrate them! Be patient with how you bounce back from burnout and most importantly, know that taking care of yourself is not selfish.
Written by Step Above Stigma's E-commerce Director, Jesse Kluck
For as long as I can remember when I hurt myself as a kid or felt sick the common phrase in my house was “listen to your body.” If you have flu-like symptoms lay down don’t overexert. If I pulled a muscle, keep off it until the pain subsides. It is automatic to respond to physical pain and let the body heal itself. However, that was never a concept I applied to my mental health. I ignored the feelings rather than address them. If I sprained my ankle but continued to run, the sprain would not go away, it may even escalate to a break. Mental health will also escalate when disregarded, yet there is a clear disconnect with the help you give your body to the health you give your mind.
Although it should be as simple as going to the doctor’s office, reaching out for help can be daunting. From my own experience reaching out for help is a barrier that I have yet to overcome. However, one thing that I have learned is to understand the signs and recognize the anxiety when it arises. Understanding does not by any means giving into the spiral, for me it is simply understanding the anxiety, where it is coming from and how to move forward to recover. I am not writing this with recommendations for anyone, because we all cope and heal in different ways. I am writing coming from a place that understands the stigma, a stigma that must be changed because mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Written by Step Above Stigma's Founder, Ampai Thammachack
1. Take time to think more openly about what you want – it might not be what you think you need.
On a daily basis it can be very easy to think I want to participate in event “a,” apply for position “b,” buy item or service “c” or be with person “d.” However, when I am stressed out or overwhelmed I have found it very helpful pause and ask myself what I actually want and what I am really seeking. When I do so my answer always boils down to wanting or needing something much deeper than what I originally thought. What I thought I wanted usually comes down to either achieving a sense of belonging, covering up my insecurities, craving a quick pick me up or something of the like, all of which is okay. But when I stop to think for a moment, I am usually able to treat myself much better and am able to make decisions and choices that help me achieve what I want on a much deeper level.
2. Boundaries are everything – listen to your body, your body is correct.
When you feel a sensation in your body take a step back if you can and ask yourself why you feel uncomfortable or why you feel uncertain. See negative or uncomfortable comments or situations coming in as slow as you can and remember you can only control how you respond. Learning how to respect your boundaries is such a challenge, the prospect of hurting or upsetting someone can be dreadful. Nonetheless, I find that when I am focused on making decisions with that rationale, I end up only hurting myself or everyone involved. So, listen to your body and even if you end up being wrong you are always right to trust yourself, which can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.
3. We are all a little beautifully wild and weird, you are never alone even when you think your deepest and “darkest” thoughts – and that’s a great thing.
Vulnerability is connection. I usually only directly learn my very best friend’s deepest thoughts that they are most ashamed of, but these moments are the moments that make me love them most. Sharing can be so incredibly hard, but I have found that I learn the most from and in these moments. I for one am always honored when a friend shares deeply with me, and I hope you are too!!
4. Picture and try to remember what environments, people and events have made you feel the most content - not only the events themselves but how and why you truly felt comfortable and whole – then try to take this with you.
If you have one of these moments in your mind consider, were you were truly relaxed, or if had you just been working hard for weeks, what was your diet like? Were you getting a lot or only a little sleep? How were your vitals? In my most challenging moments I often lose myself. As someone with a specific mental illness I dissociate from reality and am constantly re-establishing and redefining my sense of self, it is challenging for me on a daily basis to remember what I love and how, especially when I feel depressed and withdrawn, to feel the way I want to feel again. But one thing that has helped me so much is to be in tune with my emotions and identify when I feel the most jovial. After doing so, when I have the energy, I proactively do everything I can to put myself in similar moments and situations and try my best to treasure them as much as I can.
5. Be yourself and know who you are they say, but how do you actually do this?
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “just be yourself!!” This advice is always simultaneously the absolute best and the absolute worst thing to hear. It is the worst because prior to entering a scenario feelings of anxiety can sometimes make it challenging to know what to do in a particular situation, it also gives no particular guidance of how to behave which I find extremely challenging when I do not feel confident in a new situation. Nonetheless, it is the best because it reaffirms that I am enough, that my uniqueness is needed and that bringing who I am, whoever that is, to the table is good enough. I have begun to see my “sense of self” as a glowing amorphous orb that twists and turns, flips and sparkles while it changes color. To me it shows that I am constantly evolving but no matter what shape or color, I am still here, and I am still wanted. Now when I am told to be myself, I have come to accept that being myself means being whoever I want to be or can be, which of course has its limitations, especially when I am working through a period where my mental health is languishing. Yet, deep down I know that being whoever I am and meeting myself where I am is good enough.
Written by Step Above Stigma's Outreach Director, Simran Dhaliwal
People often ask me: "What motivated you to become a mental health advocate?" "How does it feel participating in the movement to break down the stigma surrounding mental health?"
I usually end up lost in thought after I hear these questions.
You see, I wasn't really familiar with the concept of mental health before.
That is until I realized that my mental health had been affected before, and I had never really done anything about it.
As a straight-A student, I had never really taken the time to focus on myself before. Back in grades 11 and 12, I remember returning from school, having supper, studying for up to 7 hours, doing homework and going to bed- every single day. Added to this was the stress of applying to foreign universities and meeting the requirements of their conditional offers. In short, life was hectic.
Spending time with family, socializing, dressing up just because I wanted to, going for a fun day out – as much as I wanted these things, they were alien to me during my high school life.
It was only after school ended that I realized how much I had missed out on. I was so absorbed in the fast pace of the world around me, that I never really made time for myself, for my needs and my wants.
This realization sparked a fire within me, to love myself more than anyone else in my life. It motivated me to pamper myself, to be my own biggest cheerleader, to take care of my needs and to do whatever I want, whenever I wanted.
As much as I dislike the COVID-19 pandemic, I'm glad it gave me and many others a chance to stop, pause and introspect about what they want and enjoy the little things in life.
Whoever's reading this: I know that it's so easy to get sucked up into the whirlwind of this fast-moving world. But be sure to look within from time to time and indulge in self-love. Engage in "unproductive productivity" - stop what you're doing, hit pause and introspect. Take time out for yourself amidst the chaos.
You are a priority.
Before I go, I want to add in a few lines from a stanza of one of my favorite poems: "Keeping Quiet" by Pablo Neruda:
"If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves."
Neruda, P. (n.d.). Keeping Quiet. Keeping quiet, Pablo Neruda. https://www.bu.edu/quantum/zen/readings/keepingQuietNeruda.html.
Written by Step Above Stigma’s Photo/ Videographer, Jade Courchesne
(content warnings: racism/ racial violence)
At the height of the pandemic, a young man pointed me out to his group of friends and coughed loudly in my direction. He called me “dirty”, and uttered a slur that most East Asians know to be abhorrent and derogatory. The next day, I heard that the vulnerable members of our community — our elders and children — were being targeted by racially-motivated assailants who knew that their victims couldn’t possibly fight back. All around the world, activists and allies took to the streets to protest the rising cases of racial violence, to speak out against the growing anti-Asian sentiment. Our trauma was thrown into the limelight, offering a small shred of hope that things were seemingly starting to change, as our stories were finally given a more visible space to exist outside of our community. It is a brutal and heart-breaking revelation, then, that just over a week ago on the 27th of June, a large group of people attacked three Asian students in Brisbane, Queensland. They were robbed and kicked, and dragged by their hair.
Yet again, many members of our community are left to grieve — feeling anxious, and alone.
These hateful acts weigh down on the AAPI community and prompt us to navigate our everyday lives with a heightened sense of awareness. We realize that our lives are seen to carry less value than others — that we must protect each other where our institutions have failed to do so. We worry about our families and tell them to be careful, and we avoid situations that can render us vulnerable. With the pandemic offering a limited amount of in-person resources for the community, discussions of anxiety and fear can be swept under the rug. Here at Queen’s University, a PhD student at the Faculty of Education, Clarissa de Leon, set up a number of virtual community care sessions in response to the increasing violence and exposure to traumatic news stories online. Inspired by a similar care session following the 2021 Atlanta Shootings on March 16th, 2021 (held by the Asian Mental Health Collective), Clarissa fills a gap in the mental health support network at Queen’s, eventually gaining institutional support from Angela Sahi (AMS Social Issues Commissioner), Yellow House, and Dr. Arunima Khanna, a cross-cultural advisor at Queen’s working with Student Wellness Services.
Named the Queen’s Asian Community Care Drop-Ins (QACCD), the community care sessions are open to Asian-identifying and mixed-race students looking to receive and give care to others who may be experiencing a lack of support during this time. They aim to provide validation and healing for their attendees, and to ensure that issues of any kind can be discussed with open-minded individuals barring any fear of judgement. While the personal details within QACCD will remain confidential, I hope to make a point about how spaces like these can become a valuable resource for marginalized students.
Respecting the Diversity of the ‘Asian’ label
The drop-ins create a safe environment for students to both speak and listen to individuals from a variety of pan-Asian backgrounds. To foster an accountable space, participants agree to respect the experiences of those around us, to react to others’ opinions with empathy and to interrupt our own prejudices by actively engaging in self-reflective conversations. What immediately came to the fore at my first meeting was the willingness of the attendees to be open with the specific details of their experiences. There were new conversations about how the Asian identity intersects with queerness, or with gender; how certain microaggressions hurt more than others; how we learn to cope with lapses in mental health due to the persisting stigma surrounding the subject in many communities. By allowing the space for these discussions to happen, we are encouraged to articulate our experiences within our existing social systems, to understand that privilege and oppression are not mutually exclusive. Those who live with multiple layers of marginalized identities can be seen and included, with their experiences used as a frame of reference to address the wide spectrum of systemic injustices that can intersect with the Asian identity.
Providing Empathy and Validation
At my second meeting, I shared a personal experience that had been bothering me for some time. Days after the first reports of an assault in Toronto, a stranger followed me home for four blocks while I was out on a walk. I made a mental note that it could have just been a coincidence, or that my gender gave me away as a vulnerable target, regardless of my race. Either way, I dismissed any feelings of fear, but as I sped up my footsteps, so did he. I stepped into a Shoppers and lost him at the exit. A couple of days later, I confessed to a friend that I had feared I would be verbally harassed or pushed, just as I had seen on the news. That my hair would be pulled and my arms grabbed by a stranger.
They told me that I needn’t worry, since I was young and strong — I could defend myself if I needed to, since the attacks were only perpetrated on the elderly. So it became a source of anxiety that I didn’t feel entitled to feeling — for what if it had been a coincidence, and I was merely overreacting?
I can’t tell you how relieved I was when another attendee revealed that they had experienced something similar; that they understood the need to overexplain, to clarify and to apologize for their stories. I learned that my self-doubt is a built-in consequence of our social structures, so our marginalizations seem like uncommon and isolated incidents; when in fact, they are more frequent and uncomfortable than we might imagine. Within QACCD, I was met with an immediate level of understanding as participants are united by their collective experiences on the margins of a society that sees them as perpetual outsiders. It’s an incredibly affirming and validating feeling — to know that the people listening have every reason to trust in your experience because they themselves have lived through it.
Offering the Means to Heal
Something that many outspoken activists and allies recognize is the sense of emotional fatigue from a constant exposure to anti-oppressive and anti-racist discourses. An important addition to QACCD is the element of de-escalation at the end of the sessions. We take the time to acknowledge that our own risks in sharing our experiences — despite feeling vulnerable — since our perspectives can serve as valuable references for those who may feel alienated or alone. Lead by Dr. Arunima Khanna, we engage in the practice of mindfulness and guided meditation. This addition offers a series of crucial reminders: that our bodies deserve care and healing on its own terms; that we can remain grounded and connected to our mental wellbeing; and, that when we find ourselves in heightened moments of stress, we can be compassionate and self-aware. We are taught to slow down for a moment, to process our experiences within a healthier headspace.
Community care is grounded in a collective mindset that prioritizes the exchange of empathy, meaning that our relationship to those attending the session is a two-way street. In our roles as community members, we aim to both mitigate our own symptoms of trauma while giving ourselves up as resources to others who need this form of support as well. Clarissa offers up this space not as a figure of authority, but as a friend and educator looking to empower racialized students to learn new ways of understanding others. Committed to prioritizing an ethic of care, Clarissa’s work in anti-racism and decolonization sets a lovely example for the rest of us to show up for other marginalized groups outside of the Asian community — whether or not their identities intersect with ours — because every person is deserving of a support system that treats them with kindness, dignity and humanity. Like links on a chain, by spotlighting these community care drop-ins, I hope to connect this resource to anyone who may be seeking any form of emotional support — whether it’s for themselves or to share with a loved one. An unfortunate truth of the Asian/ Asian diasporic community is that this form of communal support in relation to mental health continues to be stigmatized and underrepresented. As we take the step to gain more knowledge about identity, race and health, we have the chance to make that information more accessible to others so that the barriers surrounding mental health can become less daunting to overcome.
Search Queen’s Asian Community Care Group on Facebook.
To access the Group directly, use this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/825129284766943
Or, feel free to contact me privately through firstname.lastname@example.org
The Asian Mental Health Collective Website — On the barriers specific to the AAPI community:
The Asian Mental Health Collective — Facebook Page:
Subtle Asian Mental Health — Facebook Group:
Showing up for other BIPOC groups: Healing in Colour
A Directory of BIPOC therapists in Canada that offer remote sessions:
Read our blog posts about personal experiences and stories with regards to mental health. Posts written by our team or those passionate about mental health.