UConn Professor Helps Develop AAPI Mental Wellness Activity Book

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During a month when we are celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander heritage, we are also recognizing mental health awareness.

A project between the University of Connecticut and the group #IAmNotAVirus focuses on both. The two organizations teamed up to create a mental wellness activity book for Asian Americans.

“This is really addressing an emergent crisis during the first wave of the pandemic,” said UConn Associate Professor of History and Asian and Asian American Studies, Dr. Jason Chang.

He said the book gives members of the AAPI community a chance to share their feelings during a time when they’re seeing more aggression toward their culture.

“Isolation and alienation combined with the kind of harassment and discrimination more largely felt across the country was really for this generation something they’d never seen before,” Chang said.

The activity book has historical lessons - documents from Asian American history that reflects on other crises the community has faced. There are also excerpts of literature and wellness prompts that help the reader reflect on their own experiences.

“We also found that Asian Americans, didn't have a lot of experience talking about their experiences with racism, " Chang said. “The way that literature and poetry can access those kinds of collective experiences, which we have individually, kind of validates those feelings.”

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Chang said the work on the mental wellness activity book was connected to the campaign for Asian American and Pacific Islander studies in Connecticut schools. He worked with the group Make Us Visible to advocate for House Bill 5282.

It requires all Connecticut boards of education to include AAPI curriculum by the 2025-26 school year. State lawmakers passed the bill earlier this month, sending it to the governor’s desk.

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