Mental health program helps AAPI youth

Last November, Changing Tides created CT Stream, a free Little Tokyo Service Center therapy program aimed at providing assistance for Asian American and Pacific Islander youth experiencing mental health issues. The program, located in Los Angeles, provides six to 10 therapy sessions per participant. The Changing Tides program was established in 2018.

“As we’ve grown and as we’ve gotten more funding, more support, we saw that this was a great time to start it, especially with the increase of AAPI hate and the ongoing pandemic, and just trying to help out the community in a time of need,” Matthew Yonemura, Changing Tides’ outreach coordinator, said in a phone interview with the Nichi Bei Weekly.

Changing Tides received a “generous donation” from a family who supported the organization’s mission of helping destigmatize mental health among Asian American and Pacific Islander youth, Yonemura said. This enabled the organization to launch the program. 

Marian Sunabe, Changing Tides’ intake coordinator, who has a therapy background, said in a phone interview with the Nichi Bei Weekly she talks with program participants to get a sense of “what they’re seeking help for,” as well as their needs. She then helps match therapists with the clients. Therapists have to fill out a form that explains their ethnic background, approach to therapy, language capabilities, and areas of specialization, in order to be added to her list of therapists. 

After Sunabe sets up the clients with the therapists, they schedule the therapy sessions and report back on how they are doing and if they need more sessions. According to the Changing Tides Website, participating therapists receive a $100 stipend per session. Clients have no financial requirements, the Website states. 

The feedback from clients on their CT Stream experience has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Sunabe noted. She added that clients are “very happy to be able to have some sessions with a professional therapist …”

Changing Tides has largely contacted Asian American and Pacific Islander therapists from various backgrounds, Yonemura said. He noted that the organization tried to get a broad range of therapists to support the “cultural side of therapy and culturally sensitive therapy.” Yonemura added that it is “incredibly important to have a cultural understanding of each person’s background.”

The challenges Asian American and Pacific Islander youth are facing are “widely ranged” and “different for everyone,” Yonemura commented. Some Asian American and Pacific Islander youth are facing “imposter syndrome” where they question “whether or not — we deserve to be in the spaces of success that we’re in,” he said. He added that the pressures of school and work, in addition to the ‘model minority myth,’ of successes are dictated by one’s own standards and by their family are other challenges.

The Changing Tides’ CT Stream program will continue as long as they keep receiving funding from grants and donations, Yonemura said. He added that the program will have more openings this spring in April or May.

Yonemura offered tips and advice on how to support a young individual who is struggling with their mental health.

“I think the main thing is to check in on your loved ones,” Yonemura said. “I think there’s a big difference (between) normal checking in and making sure someone knows they could listen to you or you could listen to them.” 

To participate in the CT Stream, visit: https://thechangingtides.org/ct-stream and click on “CT Stream Request” on the “CT Stream” tab of the Website, where you can call Sunabe at (747) 251-1550, e-mail her at msunabe@ltsc.org or fill out the form. 

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