Dear Jinsong Guo,
You’re an unsung hero in the Asian American mental health awareness movement. Your work is proof that the actions of one person can make an impact. This love letter is to you, your efforts, and the daily acts of kindness you perform for others.
Thank you for being a fierce advocate in your town of Palo Alto, California for Asian Americans with mental health issues. Your experience with raising two first generation Chinese-Americans in a community filled with mental health issues has prepared you for your new advocacy role.
Palo Alto is a community with a history of suicide clusters, with most of the suicide victims being Asian-American. As someone who is working to address the problem, rather than ignore it, you send a message to families that they are not alone. Addressing the problem and encouraging conversation makes it okay to “not be okay,” and most of all create citizenry amongst one another.
In 2016, you didn’t have a choice in learning how to navigate the American mental health system for your youngest daughter. This was perhaps the spark that ignited your passion for Asian American mental health advocacy. Through engaging in open dialogue about the barriers and harsh truths of mental health support, you inspired me to take action in destigmatizing mental health in my everyday conversations.
You inspired me to speak more about my personal hardships and also look beyond myself by advocating for additional support to those with special needs. In addition to being a mother of two, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, you take the time to help Asian American families navigate the American mental health system.
Your actions make it clear that your passion steps beyond passive observation. It is extremely admirable to watch you put yourself back into graduate school to formally educate yourself on mental health. It reminds me that mental growth happens in all stages of life and gives me hope that it is never too late to educate Asian American parents about creating open dialogues regarding mental health issues.
You give me hope that one day, mental health will be destigmatized within the community.
Most of all, I have learned the power of vulnerability and the strength of solidarity it creates.
For newly immigrated Chinese families whose children struggle with mental health, you accompany them to their doctor’s appointments. You take the time to translate the different treatment options and share your story. You show up and open up, showing others a level of vulnerability that goes against the Chinese social norm of “saving face.” Giving up the level of comfort in social conformity for the advancement of conversation around Asian American mental health awareness is a testament of your belief that the little things matter. And it does make all the difference.
More often than not, those whom you help are strangers, connected to you by word of mouth on WeChat. Although at best you share loose ties, you help families full heartedly, without expecting any sort of reciprocity. It is a testament of your empathy and it reminds me of the very core of our humanity.
Thank you, for your passion, your empathy, and the way you continue to inspire action, no matter how big or small. This love letter is for you, and for anyone who believes in the power of the individual.
– Tiffany Liang
Tiffany Liang is a California native currently studying at New York University pursuing a degree in People Analytics. This Love Letters to Movement Leaders series is a part of a collection of love letters that will be released throughout 2018 - 2019.