Resource Guide

December 9, 2010


Hello, reader. The below is a work-in-progress: starter dough and nothing like a full list. But hopefully this opening gambit will inspire those with further information to add their knowledge to the resource list below. Ideally, this guide will eventually become a nation-wide compendium of local mental-health resources -- personal-shopped for second-generation Asian Americans. 

What makes second-generation clientele a niche demographic for mental health care? See the post on How to Choose Your Therapist by way of explanation. 

But in short, I’ll summarize by listing the criteria used here:

  • Cultural competence. Hotlines and community services with “Asian” or ethnic specifications in their names suggest a possibly helpful familiarity with the realities, nuances, and variations of immigrant lives (including their race and class dimensions) and generational dynamics. 
  • Asian American paradigm. On the other hand, many if not most of the services specifically servicing Asian populations cater to the immigrant generation, their claims to fame being Asian-language counselors. As many of the second generation are not fluent in (much less most adept/comfortable in) their families’ native tongues, this orientation can dismiss or even alienate them.
  • Accessible to minors. Keeping in mind that access to insurance (whether public or private) is routed through parents, but that parents may be the last people a teenager can inform of his or her distress, I have made note where possible of the methods of payment and access to treatment in the resources below. (This information also potentially useful to those currently without health insurance.)

Listed below are outpatient services only, as the guide is intended as a place to start.

Please feel free to use either the comment box at bottom or to email me directly (aamms[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com) with information you’d like to add.

[Updated 08.05.12]



Suicide hotlines have the very big recommendations of being both free and anonymous. When despair spikes, it’s priceless to be able to pick up the phone and know that the person on the other end will not flip out, nor remember what you’ve said in awkward situations later.

However, there’s no long-term care in the hotline context, no ongoing conversation. You’d have to explain yourself again from the beginning with each call. This is a tourniquet, not a treatment. They may, however, be a good referral source.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-TALK                                                      24-hour service.

Culturally competent:  Not necessarily                Main demographic: English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  Yes                                    Payment:  Free

Asian LifeNet Hotline

1-877-990-8585                                                      24-hr service.

The recording (with lengthy message) is entirely in Chinese. English is spoken briefly by the automated phone system which informs the caller of his/her order in the queue for a counselor. Counselors also speak Japanese, Korean, and presumably English -- but be prepared for a jarring reception in which the service may seem very much not intended for you.

Culturally competent:  Presumably                        Main demographic: First-generation

Accessible to minors:  Technically                          Payment:  Free

I'm Alive                                      24-hr service.

Online crisis network. Volunteers available by chat. Geared toward young, tech-savvy population.

Culturally competent:  Not necessarily                Main demographic: English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  Yes                                    Payment:  Free

List of hotlines by state: 

List of hotlines by specialty:

This site lists several hotlines for teens. A high proportion of these local/privately-operated hotlines are run by religious organizations, so buyer beware.

National Runaway Switchboard:  Also for minors, with a potentially useful shifted focus.

1-800-786-2929 (1-800-RUN-AWAY)                         24-hour service.

Culturally competent:  Not necessarily                Main demographic: English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  Yes                                    Payment:  Free

Domestic abuse hotlines

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Abuse

617-338-2355                                                         24-hour service.

Culturally competent:  Presumably                     Main demographic: Immigrant and English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  Yes                                    Payment:  Free

API Domestic Violence Task Force Hotline List:




Nonprofit organizations or arms of city/county services, these community health centers are often designed to address the needs of lower-income immigrant families. As such, they often

  • cater more to the immigrant, non-English speaking population, though they don't withhold service from second generation clients;
  • accept payment through Medicaid or other government programs. Many centers, however, do not accept private insurance, so refer those with private coverage to their insurance to find in-network providers instead;
  • offer sliding-scale payment structures. Those that do not, however, may be unable to accept clients who don’t have access to either form of insurance (minors without parental cognizance, for example).

Culturally competent:  Presumably                             Main demographic: Family

Accessible to minors:  Through parents                       

Payment:  Public health insurance; varies: some sliding scale, some HMO (check with individual centers)

For those living in areas not listed here: If you are covered by private insurance, work through your insurance company to obtain a list of network providers. If not, contact your county mental health service, and they will route you to county-partnered providers such as the below.



Los Angeles area

Asian Pacific Counseling & Treatment Centers 

Asian Pacific Health Care Venture  (includes a school-based clinic at John Marshall High School; students at King, Irving, and Le Conte Middle Schools also eligible)

Chinatown Service Center

Little Tokyo Service CenterCenter for the Pacific Asian Family

Pacific Asian Counseling Services

Pacific Clinics  (San Gabriel Valley)


San Diego

Asian/Pacific Islander Community Health Network (has just launched mental health component; information not yet reflected on website)  


San Francisco Bay Area

Asian Community Mental Health Services    (510) 

Chinatown/North Beach Mental Health Services    (415)  

Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc    (415) 

Asian Americans for Community Involvement   (408)   



Asian Pacific Development Center    (also other CO locations)


D.C. area

National Organization for People of Color against Suicide - Survivors Circle  (also other locations/projects)

South Asian Wellness Clinic - at Johns Hopkins  (Baltimore, MD)



Adult Mental Health Division of the Department of Health  (includes hotlines for immediate care; otherwise oriented to treatment of severe illness)  

Helping Hands Hawai'i

Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center 




Asian Human Services




Asian Psychiatry Clinic, Tufts Medical Center


New York


National Organization for People of Color against Suicide - Survivors of Suicide Support Group (also other locations/projects)



Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center      

Gouverneur Hospital - Asian Bicultural Clinic             

Hamilton-Madison House - Asian-American Mental Health Services          

Queens Child Guidance Center - Asian Clinic

South Beach Psychiatric Center - Ft. Hamilton Mental Health Services - Asian Program




Asian American Family Services  (includes various Youth Programs, with particular focus on serving 2nd-generation kids and young adults under 24 years of age)


Asian Counseling & Referral Service  (includes hotline; many of the clinicians are reported to be second-generation)



Asian Initiative in Mental Health (Toronto)




High school counselors. Students seeking referrals to local services, or services not necessarily or immediately routed through parental cognizance, may wish to speak with their school counselors. These counselors should be able to direct them to the county-specific agencies and through the maze of requirements to find what help is available.

I pass along this advice because it may well be worthwhile. However, please bear in mind that your average high school counselor is not necessarily culturally literate when it comes to Asian American mental health. For instance, a school counselor faced with a distraught straight-A student may very well have no idea how to interpret her distress. Or he may jump to very broad (sometimes racist) conclusions. Proceed with caution, and should you feel misread, know that that is normal -- abort mission and look elsewhere.

Culturally competent:  Not on average                   Main demographic: English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  Yes                                       Payment:  Free

CA -     Asian Pacific Health Care Venture: school-based clinic at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles; students at King, Irving, and Le Conte Middle Schools also eligible. 

Note for California residents between 12 and 17 years of age: A 2010 state law has made it possible for minors 12 and above to consent to outpatient counseling. This means you can seek out and obtain the services of a therapist without your parents' permission or knowledge. However, the therapist is required to notify your parents of the treatment when it begins -- unless he or she judges that notifying your parents would be "inappropriate" (i.e., a bad idea). See the right-hand column here for details of this law. See here (1/3rd of the way down the page) for an expanded, though somewhat confusing, explanation of the kinds of access your parents would have to your files (basically, if you are deemed not to be in danger, your parents may have some access to your files, but even then, the therapist exercises discretion regarding what to reveal, as your interests are highest).


College campus counseling services. I’ve found campus counseling services to be invaluable. They’re generally free and readily accessible. Though visits are usually capped at a certain number, they can be an excellent place to get started, with a selection of counselors who are more than commonly versed in the brew of academic and cultural stressors immediate to you. If you have this resource at your disposal, by all means check it out. 

Culturally competent:  Above-average                    Main demographic: English-speaking

Accessible to minors:  N/A                                        Payment:  Free or co-pay type fee

Listed below are colleges whose counseling centers have Asian American focus programs -- even better.

University of California, Berkeley: API Connect  

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Asian American Outreach Counseling Center   

See here for a thorough guide specific to college students, with advice on seeking therapy and explanations of your rights as a patient.       



Below you’ll find, by state, lists of practitioners compiled by various other sites. The selection criteria for these sites are not often stated; if therapists are included by virtue of self-identified race or ethnicity alone, the lists may not be much more valuable/informative than those that any insurance company can pull -- filtered for desired specializations or race/gender characteristics -- from their banks of providers.

Kabuuann Koaching’s growing list will be worth noting, however -- as it is compiled in conjunction with this resource guide and therefore selects for therapists who specialize in working with second-generation clients. In addition, KK's guide includes a range of other resources, especially in the Filipino American community.

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association

Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence Directory of Programs

DC/MD - Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians (CHAI)

IL -     Asian Health Coalition / Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative - Clinician Referral Directory

NY -    Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education

          NY Coalition for Asian American Mental Health  (scroll 2/3rds way down page to see item II: Private Practice Providers)

TX -    Asian Behavioral Health Network  (Austin; network of providers)





Code of Ethics:  List of these for psychotherapists. (for most succinct presentation, see Marriage and Family Therapy)

Campus Mental Health, Know Your Rights:  A guide for (college) students who want to seek help for mental illness or emotional distress.

Life Portal:  Intriguing, quasi-searchable database of Bay-Area health services (of all kinds, not just mental) -- with yelp-like review capabilities! Just launched.

SAWERA:  Illuminating page on identifying Types of Abuse. If you’re not sure whether you can rightfully say “This hurts,” try this: Read through swapping out "spouse or domestic partner" for "child," especially the section "Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a [child] may include..."

**Great many thanks to Lydia Cabascal, of Kabuuan Koaching, for her generous collaboration in compiling our resource guides.


Ask a Model Minority Suicide is
a series on mental health. Introductory post
Resource Guide here.
Go here
to see all posts in this series.

Comments, questions, or suggestions can be posted below -- or sent privately to Sam at aamms[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com.



Ask a Model Minority Suicide


Sam is an alias, of course, but for a real person. Feel free to contact her directly
at aamms[at]hyphenmagazine[dot]com.




Some Illinois resources I found: (has four links)  
Resource: Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center up in the Bay Area

Hi, and thanks for the rec, reader. Question, though: I checked out their website before and just did again, but still can't find any mention of mental health/counseling services:   Do you have more information about that than I see online, or am I looking in the wrong place?

I'd like to endorse Suresh Unni in Chicago, IL.  He is also listed in the Asian Health Coalition list of mental health providers.  I believe he focuses on second-generation Asian Americans (and depression) and is second-generation himself.  I didn't originally think that was key when looking for a therapist, but I went through a series of therapists who wanted to focus on what they perceived to be the problems Asian Americans were facing, and not necessarily on an individual's issues (even if stemming from an Asian American identity).  I think the empathy aspect, beyond just sympathy, makes a world of difference.  Suresh is great to work with and has been very helpful on a range of issues.

Thank you!