Author: Aakash Anandjiwala
As an Asian American, the bar for success is often out of reach. Once you achieve a goal, you must achieve something bigger and better. Being born to immigrants from India, it is often the discussion of working harder than others because, as immigrants, my parents understood that everything is earned and not given. In 2021, many Asian Americans face a situation known as the “Model Minority Myth," which refers to certain minority groups being given the distinction of being more successful than other minority groups whether it is through academics, finances, or other means. This myth is most commonly applied to Asian Americans.
The Model Minority Myth consumes individuals through the number of stereotypes that come with being part of a minority group. I know stereotypes are usually linked to negative circumstances, but stereotypes associated with this myth are typically positive and can include, having good grades, being obedient and lawful, and being socially sound. But why is this all bad? All of these stereotypes lead to unhealthy heightened competition between disadvantaged groups and in the end, causes ethnic segregation and overshadows the discrimination and disparities that are often experiences by disadvantaged groups.
With these stereotypes becoming more pronounced, the mental health of individuals locked within this myth has greatly suffered. There is a constant pressure to fit the mold of each stereotype in order to achieve the success and prosperity that is already presumed upon yourself and your group. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and a case of the imposter syndrome because the stereotypes could not be fulfilled. When it comes to Asian Americans specifically, they are less likely to seek mental health services in fear of seeming inadequate. If/when they do seek mental services, they are more likely to present with greater degrees of symptoms. “There are over 2.2 million people who identify as Asian American who had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year.” (MHA)
To combat the Model Minority Myth, there needs to be normalization of conversations entailing mental health, as well as an address to the stigma behind seeking help. Being mindful of what you think, positive self-reflection, and evaluation of the circumstances is also key to understanding how to avoid positive stereotypes.