As an expert on culturally competent counseling, Dr. Ida has developed several other initiatives that further cultural awareness and community empowerment. The Growing Our Own program trains clinicians to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services, while Achieving Whole Health equips community members to become qualified wellness coaches. Both programs fit into NAAPIMHA’s mission to improve the health and mental health of individuals who identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander.
To reach their goals, leaders at NAAPIMHA have sought out grants that fund culturally competent services, including support for “ethnic-specific” behavioral health services. Most recently, staff at NAAPIMHA have worked with Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to “designate May 10th as National Asian American, Native Hawaiian, [and] Pacific Islanders mental health day.” Dr. Ida explained that this day is meant to “raise awareness” for the importance of mental health and to “redefine what mental health is,” and how it can affect different communities.
There has been a push by NAAPIMHA to help individuals heal through various modes of cultural expression, such as song and dance, so that people can start to think of themselves as more than a diagnosis. Dr. Ida also shares how they’ve begun “mental health awareness training” in high schools for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students. The project focuses on topics related to racism, mental health, and cultural identities.
Exploring these broader questions is a large piece of NAAPIMHA’s plan to increase cultural awareness for the differences that exist between individuals and communities. As Dr. Ida explained, a “fourth generation half Japanese and half Caucasian [family]” may have a very different set of concerns from “a refugee from Laos or Cambodia.” Cultural competence in counseling includes acknowledging and understanding how unique characteristics affect the delivery of a client’s care.
If you are interested in learning more, you can visit Asians in Focus, a website that is dedicated to sharing NAAPIMHA stories through artistic expression. In addition to her founding work with NAAPIMHA, Dr. Ida helped establish the Asian American Educational Opportunity Program at the University of Colorado, the Asian Pacific Development Center, and a specialty Denver clinic in her forty-year career. Clinicians are encouraged to ask what it’s like to work with the Asian community and where else they can access resources to best help their clients.