Celebrating AAPI Heritage & Mental Health Awareness Month

If you have been following my practice on Instagram (@southseattlecounseling), you will know that we have been highlighting the experiences of Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) throughout May in honor of AAPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. To help with the celebration, I asked some of my AAPI colleagues to share their involvement in mental health care and how their cultural identities shape who they are. I am grateful for each of these diverse practitioners and am excited to share some of their wisdom with you!

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First up is the incredible Mindy Lu (pictured above), who always brightens the room with her positive energy and insightful approach. Mindy is the founder of Sunrise Nutrition, an amazing practice that combines nutrition and mental health counseling. Enjoy Mindy’s interview!

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NA (Neshia Alaovae): How do you like to introduce yourself to new friends?

ML (Mindy Lu): Hi, I'm Mindy! I'm a nutritionist who's also therapist - and a therapist who's also a nutritionist. I love that special place where food and emotions intersect. I also love traveling, watching tons of television, eating lots of cake and spending time with my husband and our dog, Beemo. 

NA: What does your work involve?

ML: I specialize in food and body work. My favorite type of healing is helping people have a peaceful relationship with food, themselves and their body. A negative relationship with food and body image is one of the most under-reported traumas because dieting and body shaming is so normalized in our culture. My work is based in social justice and feminist values as well. 

NA: What is something that you want people to know about mental health? About AAPI mental health?

ML: Oh man, it's so important for people to know that it's okay to have conflicted feelings about food and what their bodies look like. We live in a culture that glamorizes food and certain bodies, but never gives space to those who struggle with it. As far as AAPI mental health - I always acknowledge the amount of body shaming that is a part of so many Asian cultures . . . and then I call it out. Just because it's been around forever doesn't mean it's right. Never be afraid to stand up and advocate for your body and your needs. 

NA: What are your go-to's for taking care of your own mental health?

ML: I disconnect in all ways - mentally, emotionally and physically and focus on allowing myself to do whatever I want . . . and that includes nothing, sometimes. Sometimes, it's getting a massage, or doing the thing on my to-do list I don't want to do, or the laundry, or binge-watching a show on Netflix. Drawing and honoring boundaries has also been really helpful. Lastly, my self-care regimen also includes my own therapy. My therapist rocks. 

NA: What about your cultural or ethnic identity do you appreciate the most?

ML: I love connecting with my culture (I'm Taiwanese-American) through food - learning old family recipes, trying new ones, and reading through cookbooks that feature Taiwanese and Chinese cuisine. Taiwan and China have such rich histories and approaching them from the food lens is fascinating. 

You can find out more about Mindy’s work by checking out her website, following her on Instagram (@hellosunrisenutrition), or emailing her at mindy@sunrise-nutrition.com. Thanks for all you do, Mindy!