COVID-19 has changed the world around us in many ways, some for the positive but also some highly negative. One damaging aspect that has been highlighted and amplified by the pandemic is the level of anti-Asian racism experienced worldwide. From 2020-2021, across 15 major US cities ant-Asian hate crimes rose by 169%. Anti-Asian racism is not a new occurrence, but the pandemic created an increase in instances, with 47% of Asian Canadians self-reporting that discrimination aimed at them is a problem in their own communities. Racism and discrimination are major two factors that can negatively affect the mental health of individuals and communities as a whole. According to the 2016 Canadian census just over 11% of the population of Victoria reported Asian ethnicity, making up a substantial portion of our community, whose mental health might be impacted.
At UVic, Dr Fred Chou has created a project to help tackle this issue, the Growth and Solidarity hub. The aim of this team is to support and connect Asian communities’ mental health across Canada through collecting resources, continuing research projects, and an anti-Asian racism zine. The Growth and Solidarity hub are currently running three projects: (Re)Cultivating Family Stories, Stories that Shape Us, and (Re)Claim & Connect.
(Re)Cultivating Family Stories is an pilot project looking at intergenerational storytelling, to strengthen family relationships and mental wellness. They are aiming to gather adult Asian volunteers who are intergenerational, who can during counselling sessions tell stories of their families to improve their relationships and create a family story. This family story can then be preserved, and volunteers can learn about other Asian Canadian family stories. This is an adaptation of a counselling technique called life review, which has been shown to have significant effect on quality of life and mental wellbeing, especially in the elderly generation. Participants will also be able to provide feedback for the future of the program.
Stories that Shape Us is looking specifically at intergenerational resilience in people of Chinese heritage. They are looking for volunteers who are parent/child pairings where the parent experienced hardship or adversity, and where both people can help to identify how the parent handled and adapted based on the hardship they faced and how this may have impacted the child. The volunteers will be asked to participate in interviews (both separately and as a pair) and to tell their stories. The interviews in this project will result in a written story that will be shared with participants, which can be used to preserve family heritage. This research aims to fill a gap in knowledge, as there is currently no work examining phycological resilience in Chinese Canadian families. The capability for resilience is an important part of mental wellbeing, so any information that is gathered on what may increase resilience may be able to be used to aid these communities in the future.
(Re)Claim & Connect is looking for volunteers to test a free online anti-Asian racism counseling support group for people of Asian heritage located in British Columbia. This group work aims to help the community heal and build resistance against anti-Asian racism and the volunteers will also be asked to provide feedback on how to improve the service. There is not much research is available in the current literature on how support groups can aid with peoples’ experiences on anti-Asian racism, so this project aims to create this work and refine the support and counselling that can be made available. It is hoped that participants will experience an increase un their overall mental wellness and reduced negative feelings caused by racist encounters. There will also be a chance for those involved to gain a greater awareness of both your and others stories and the effects of racism on Asian people in Canada.
More information on this hub and their research projects can be found on their website, via their Instagram @growthandsolidarity, or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website has multiple resources to help fight anti-Asian racism such as ways to donate, learn, and take action (including in the classroom). They also have resources which are tailored for specific provinces or that are Canada wide.
You can also learn more about anti-racism and take positive action by taking part in UVic’s Anti-racism Education Program, which includes online EQHR Anti-Racism Awareness training and can he found here.
Let’s keep talking about mental health together <3
The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.