White House AAPI Ambassador Sonia Sujanani will talk about mental problems unique to Asian-American youth and resources available at the upcoming mega Health & Wellness Expo on Sunday at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA. The event is free for the attendees.
The Expo is organized by INE MultiMedia, Inc., a non-profit company devoted to promoting and supporting non-profit organizations focused on South Asian community, and is sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Lahey Health, Neem Medical Spa and INDIA New England News.
Last October, Sujanani was selected as one of the 30 young leaders from across the nation committed to improving the quality of life and opportunity by White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI).
She graduated from Northeastern University, summa cum laude, in 2011 with her B.S. in Economics. Thereafter, she attended Cornell Law School, where she received her Juris Doctorate with Berger Honors in International Legal Affairs in May. Currently, she is doing a judicial clerkship with Justice Fernande R.V. Duffly on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
At the Health Expo, Sujanani will speak about her work with WHIAAPI, especially surrounding mental health.
“I’d like to highlight some of the problems unique to Asian-American youth, and suggest some resources that are available,” Sujanani said. “I’ll share some solutions brainstormed by youth for youth that I’ve encountered during my focus on mental health. Of course, I’d also love to hear from any young attendees so we are planning to keep this session fairly open for participants to collaborate together.”
WHIAAPI was reestablished by President Obama in 2009 by executive order. The initiative is chaired by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and is headed by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja. It is housed within the Department of Education and works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
As part of the focus on Mental Health, the Initiative has focused on educating people about the specific mental health issues and risks to Asian American youth. For example, Asian American youth are the highest suicide risk in the nation, and Asian-Americans report the highest amounts of cyber-bullying.
This is particularly true of Sikh, Muslim and South Asian youth, who have experienced a disproportionate increase in discrimination and bullying after 9/11, Sujanani said.
“We also work to empower youth by pointing out the different resources available to them at both the State and Federal level and serving as community mentors. Finally, we work to engage youth by collecting data and insight on their experiences, concerns, and issues and collaboratively brainstorming with them to create community and personal solutions to mental health issues. Of course, chief among the issues facing youth today is stress,” Sujanani said.