For AANHPI Heritage Month, I partnered with Filipino Mental Health Initiative – San Mateo County (FMHI-SMC) and shared my living experience around mental health as a 1st generation Filipino American. This was a new experience for me as I have never shared my experiences with mental disorders in a goverment setting.
For your convenience, I am sharing the FMHI-SMC presentation in hopes that you are able to find hope in the voices that shared. Thank you again to the Co-Chairwomen and Committee Members for the opportunity to share my story. Please click on the image below, the Board of Supervisors meeting will begin to play. Skip to timestamp 1:21:50 and you can listen to the FMHI-SMC ask San Mateo County to declare May as AANHPI Heritage Month and most importantly, listen to those who shared their lived experience with mental illnesses.
“Good Morning. Supervisors, Chairwomen of FMHI, Committee Members, and San Mateo County localities. Thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony on the importance of representation in the peninsula and the undeniable disparities around mental health in the AANHPI communities. My name is Maryann Parcasio Clark and I am deeply vested in normalizing conversations around mental health because I believed at one time that I was the only one suffering from mental disorders.
I am a first generation Filipino American born and raised in the Bay Area. As the oldest daughter I was basically the second mother of the house. I was to never speak out of turn or create any headaches for my parents. Unfortunately to my parents dismay, I was not the most compliant child. The more my parents placed restrictions the more I rebelled. At the age of 27, I had 4 kids under the age of 6. During these years as I lived in San Mateo County, there was never a conversation about the importance of maternal mental health from community members. Looking back I can see the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Advocating for mothers of underrepresented communities would have helped me learn to manage my mental disorders sooner. Unfortunately it took me over 13 years to prioritize my mental health.
Destigmatizing mental disorders that already exist in the AANHPI communities did not seem like a priority to the governing bodies. This was made clear by the insufficient resources geared towards our cultural actualities as there was no representation or systems in place to better serve us. We deserve to see people who look like us. Why would I seek help from someone who doesn’t look like me or understand my cultural nuances? Considering the realization that 32.1 % of residents of San Mateo County are of our unique ethnicities, community leaders must address the disparities we face and partner with AANHPI advocates to bridge the gap. Thank you. “