The new report also highlights key mental health findings disaggregated by eight Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander community subgroups

Feb. 29, 2024 — A new report revealing insights on the mental health experiences of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities in California was published today by AAPI Data and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR).

The report, titled “Piecing The Puzzle of AANHPI Mental Health,” sheds greater light on distinct experiences and perspectives of various AANHPI subgroups by combining disaggregated California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data paired with cultural, historical and community analyses to paint a comprehensive and fuller picture of the study’s key findings.

Key Findings

  • 1 in 4 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults and 1 in 6 Asian American adults report a need for mental health support despite significant mental health stressors
  • Nearly half of AANHPI adults reported everyday experiences with discrimination — 1 in 5 Asian American adults also report being the victim of a hate incident or crime
  • Nearly half of AANHPI adults (45%) said they are worried about being a victim of gun violence, far exceeding the California population overall (30%)
  • Over 1 in 5 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults and over 1 in 10 Asian American adults report suicidal ideation
  • When AANHPI adults do seek support, they encounter access barriers. Among those who identified a need for mental health support, 42% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults and 31% of Asian American adults reported difficulty accessing services

“This landmark report goes a long way toward piecing the puzzle of AANHPI mental health by uplifting new data and the distinct cultural and historical context that impact these mental health experiences today,” said Connie Tan, senior research analyst at AAPI Data, and one of the lead authors of the report. “By situating data in the broader landscape of these contexts, we can illuminate a fuller understanding of our communities’ mental health needs required to eliminate barriers to care, navigate collective trauma and tackle stigma.”

“The goal of the report is to spur a more nuanced discourse on mental health for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Asian American communities,” said Ninez Ponce, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, or CHPR, and one of the report’s authors.

Researchers of the report used a novel approach, by beginning with CHIS data about AANHPI from 2020 through 2022. In addition, AAPI Data and the UCLA CHPR initiated the California AANHPI Community Needs Survey — a 15-minute follow-on survey for Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans who responded to the 2021 and 2022 CHIS.

This rigorous survey data was combined with historical community experiences as influenced by cultural factors, U.S. foreign policy and intergenerational trauma, and feedback from an intentional sample of leaders in various AANHPI communities.

“It is our hope that this report can help spark a broader understanding of the nuance and complexity of AANHPI mental health,” said Fontane Lo, deputy director of AAPI Data. “This report connects the relationship between U.S. foreign policy, how communities came to the country and the ramifications it has had for their mental health in the present day. As a result, each Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community has their own unique story of trauma — but also resilience.”

The report also contains AANHPI community briefs, providing a more granular examination of mental health experiences for eight subgroups: Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Vietnamese, other Southeast Asian (excluding Vietnamese), Filipino, South Asian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

“Community-informed research is foundational to addressing the distinct mental health needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and executive director of AAPI Data and professor of public policy at UC Riverside.

Included in the report are a number of recommendations. Researchers say that more Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Asian American mental health providers are needed.

“We witnessed how the dual pandemic of COVID-19 and anti-Asian violence has exacerbated the need for mental health among our patients by over two-fold,” said Thu Quach, president of Asian Health Services, a California-based health center serving Asian American communities. “Yet, in the midst of the greatest demand for such services, there is a severe mental health workforce shortage across the state and nation, particularly for bilingual and bicultural providers.”

The collaborative report illustrates the impact of innovative academic and cross-sector partnerships to uplift community-centered data. “We are incredibly grateful for key investments from the State of California, our partnerships with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Health Interview Survey, and insights from community partners to produce research that is insightful, timely and solutions-oriented,” Ramakrishnan said.


About AAPI Data
AAPI Data is a national research and policy organization producing accurate data to support community narratives that drive action toward enduring solutions for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities. Learn more at aapidata.com.

About the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) is one of the nation’s leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health policy information for California. UCLA CHPR improves the public’s health through high quality, objective, and evidence-based research and data that informs effective policymaking. UCLA CHPR is the home of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and is part of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.