By Regina Franco, Esq.
Dear Friends of Access Institute,
For those who grew up in immigrant families, we know mental health is grossly stigmatized. That stigma’s power caused years of personal invalidation which was sad and frustrating because no one, including myself, knew my mental health was suffering. I could not break through the cultural barrier of shame associated with depression, anxiety, or other psychological problems. No one could understand the concept of not feeling well despite appearing physically fine: That it was ok not to be ok. Desperate for help, I broke through the barrier and sought treatment. After experiencing life with more ease, I knew mental health advocacy was my calling. That is why I joined the Access Institute Board.
I invited my parents and their friends to an Access Institute event. When the Founder and Executive Director, Bart Magee spoke, I witnessed something special and transformative; their table was silent and fully engaged - truly a phenomenon as groups of Filipinos are rarely quiet. At the end of the evening, I knew Bart broke through the barrier because in truest form, they were the last to leave; audibly laughing and visibly filled with joy.
The next day, my father, a physician, told me he didn’t realize that mental health problems were such an epidemic, and was grateful to finally understand it and why. My mother shared that learning about the role of trauma on mental health and how it gets passed down through the generations left a lasting impression on her. Now weeks later, my parents and their friends continue to openly talk about mental health together, but more importantly, with others, and all are excited to continue supporting Access Institute. It is this power of awareness and empathy that will help eliminate the mental health stigma.
The ripple effect of Bart’s cultural breakthrough renewed my commitment to Access Institute and our mission to ensure that everyone has access to compassionate, responsive, and affordable mental health care.
As part of the Access Institute community, I am grateful for your commitment to end mental health stigma and ensure equitable access to care. In furtherance of our mission, I invite you to give the gift of mental healthcare to someone who can’t afford it. A gift of $50 makes it possible for a student or elder to begin therapy. A gift of $2,500 provides a full year of treatment. Every donation gives someone the opportunity to live life with less suffering. To donate, please go to the homepage.
May is Mental Health awareness month, so please spread the word. Never before has the mental health of so many been challenged. With your support, Access Institute is here to help meet this challenge. On behalf of the entire board, staff, volunteers, and the community we serve, thank you for your support.
Regina Franco, Esq.
Director, Access Institute Board