Entrepreneurship & Mental Health, A Conversation with Rachel Lim, Co-Founder of Love, Bonito

As part of our partnership with Love, Bonito, we got to sit down with Rachel Lim, Co Founder of @lovebonito to talk about how she takes care of her mental health as an Asian-woman entrepreneur. 

Q: As an entrepreneur, what is the best investment you can make for your personal and professional life? 

A: “Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet.” This is a John Maxwell saying that I always return to. 

Over the last few years, I’ve made a daily commitment to do something for myself that strengthens me mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – reading for 10 minutes, getting in a workout and journaling for example.or I’ve discovered the immeasurable value of spending time with myself, getting to know myself deeply, working through areas where I could improve on, expanding my mind by learning new skills, honing and practicing to keep making progress and growing. Investing in ourselves is truly the best investment we could ever make because it improves not only our lives, but the lives of those around us too.

Q: How do you prioritize and take care of your mental health? 

A:  I try to let go of things I can’t control.

Whenever I feel anxious, overwhelmed or upset, I’d take out my notebook, draw a line in the middle of the page and jot down “things that I can control” in one column vs “things that I cannot control” in the other with regard to the situation. So often, the negativity is much bigger in our head than it is in reality, and writing it out like that has helped me to reframe my perspective and focus. This has proven to be so effective in guiding my attention back to working on what I can control and taking the next best step to do the best thing. So, instead of wasting your energy on what’s out of control in the first place, you re-direct your attention to what you can. In life, these are things we can always control: Our attitude, our response, our self-talk, our actions. It sounds simple and logical enough, but it takes practice.

Q: How do you handle your emotions?

A: When I was going through a particularly difficult season, my therapist gave me a piece of advice that I’ll always remember: “Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, own it and learn from it.” I used to suppress my emotions, positive or negative, and sweep them under the carpet convincing myself that they’d eventually go away. But they never do. Instead, they find their way to the surface and explode later in unhealthy ways. The lessons you don’t learn will keep coming back louder and bigger until you do. My therapist’s advice has helped me develop the habit of pausing to acknowledge what I’m feeling, to address it, and decide what I want to do with it. This has trained me to regulate my emotions to restore a healthy balance, sometimes simply by breathing it all in and letting go of all that I shouldn’t hold on to anymore.

We’re so grateful to Love, Bonito for partnering with us! Designing for the key moments and milestones of a woman’s life, Love, Bonito’s comprehensive assortment features stylish and comfortable pieces for the modern Asian woman at home, work and play. Love, Bonito is the largest vertically integrated, omnichannel women’s fashion brand in Southeast Asia today. The brand remains committed to relationship building and nurturance, imbuing soul into innovation with thoughtful design and dedicated community outreach. 

For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/3NOpexR.

Disability Pride: Further Readings

This an non-exhaustive place for concerned folks to begin some critical reads into the heart and core and reimaginings of disability justice, from disabled authors and creators of color and co-conspirators. Below you will find current event articles, blog posts, zines, manifestos, guidelines, handbooks, and podcasts on what are issues of care, permeated with intersectional wisdom. Texts are linked first and foremost to free online PDFs/versions available, and if applicable, followed up by options to financially support the creators, independent bookstores, and/or social justice causes (if you are able to). We center disabled multi-Asian and BIPOC work and narratives. This compilation is loosely organized and not intended to be chronological nor hierarchical, but webbed and interconnected. Feel free to navigate from reading to reading, essential narrative to narrative, from people to people. These readings all venture into and/or discuss compounded and complex trauma/lived experiences that are interlocked with structural violence and everyday systemic conditions. For our BIPoC and QTBIPoC readers in particular, please safeguard your peace of mind and take care as you go through these resources. Know that you can exit the tab immediately if you encounter triggering content. 

Disability is a multifaceted word that covers seas of ground, branching into many different ways of living and existing and surviving and resisting. Disability is not a death sentence, nor is it alien or unknown or as unique as people assume. It is, however, greatly (and traumatically) stigmatized—often to the point of death. Ableism is as pervasive as bedrock in today’s world: the idea of who is worthwhile, what kinds of bodies and thought and movement and existence are valid and okay, are embedded in every turn of U.S. society and its brand of capitalism. So I ask that you come here with the basic acknowledgment that people with disabilities are largely made invisible—disabled people of color far more so—and that we have all greatly internalized ableism in the most minute and mundane of ways. For example, there is an obsession with returning to a pre-pandemic world where things were “normal” or reimagining a post-pandemic world of a similar brand of normality. But should we take a long moment to examine what that “normal” refers to—that “normal” is for folks who are systemically welcome to live with their dignities intact and ability to be careless with their bodies—we can come to realize that human rights crises have always existed, been neglected & proactively worsened before the Covid-19 virus even showed up. It is vital to remember that more people will navigate the (ongoing) pandemic with disabilities—people who haven’t experienced chronic or long-term or permanent disabilities and/or who now have multiple disabilities and/or worsened disability directly because of contracting the virus and/or indirectly because of all the systems continually working against us before, during, and beyond this pandemic. This is a reminder that care must be valued and practiced. Caretaking across all arenas must continue.

Many of these texts are U.S.-centric and U.S.-based, and thus much of the cultural/social/structural conditions, conditioning, and analysis discussed will derive from this occupied territory called the United States. Actively seek out work put forth by disabled people of color, by black and indigenous peoples, and by queer and trans people of color in your region. To find out whose land you occupy, utilize this app: Native-Land.ca | Our home on native land. Take your time thinking in the specific, everyday dimensions of your life and ponder about, for example, how you may make your words, skills, passions, and resources more accessible. We invite you to do more research on your own time and hope these resources can allow you to get started or help you along in your work—to strike you, stay with you, and mobilize you, if you will.

[ID: five stripes cut diagonally across the grey-black flag. The muted colors, from top to bottom, are: elastic green, sky blue, grey-white, cream, and rouge pink. End ID.]

For more updates on disability pride flag iterations and community dialogue that has happened over the course of the month of July 2021 and is continuing to happen, follow Ann Magil on Tumblr:  From the Edge of the Map.

On the severe inadequacies of the current Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

“The income support that SSI provides is nothing short of critical for the roughly 8 million disabled and older Americans currently receiving benefits, who are disproportionately Black, Latinx, and people of color. But due to decades of federal neglect, SSI’s income protections have withered over time — and the program now consigns millions of disabled people and older adults to deep and enduring poverty, despite the fact that it was enacted to give them a lifeline out of it. Benefits top out at just three-quarters of the federal poverty line, and the program’s rigid income and asset limits have not been updated for inflation for more than 30 years, penalizing savings and work.”

“Building Back Better” for Older and Disabled Americans Requires Bringing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) into the 21st Century – National Academy of Social Insurance

Other recipients say they cannot pursue meaningful work because it could cost them their SSI and accompanying Medicaid coverage without providing enough income or insurance to compensate. Some want to test their ability to hold a job but do not want to risk having nothing to fall back on if they cannot.”

“It can be very hard to get your SSI or your Medicaid back once you do lose those benefits,” said Mia Ives-Rublee, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, who uses a wheelchair and relied on SSI in college. “There’s a real trap of having to balance your health needs versus your willingness and ability to work.”

“The amount of benefits that we lose is thousands; it’s not anything that a normal spouse can afford,” said a disabled SSI recipient who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retaliation for speaking against the rules of the program she relies on. “Most of us, myself included, are not getting married because I literally would die. I would lose everything.”

“Once, that recipient said, she was too sick to leave her home for two months, and because her daily expenses fell, her bank account balance increased to $2,135 from just under $2,000 without her noticing. When the Social Security Administration found out, she had to repay her entire SSI benefit for those months, which took two years.”

How Disabled Americans Are Pushing to Overhaul a Key Benefits Program (Originally posted on the New York Times)

Take Action

Sample template for calling your local representatives:

Hello, my name is [INSERT NAME] calling from the zip code [INSERT ZIP CODE]. Almost 8 million Americans rely on the SSI to meet their basic needs, and it is the very same punitive policy that forces seniors and disabled Americans to live in poverty and unjust conditions. I’m calling to say [INSERT LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE] must act now to increase payments to at least 100% of the federal poverty line and get rid of the marriage ban, the “in support and maintenance” rule, and other penalties. “Build back better” and don’t leave disabled people behind this time. Thanks.

Safety Planning for Hate Crimes Against the Asian/American Community

Due to recent increases of hate crimes against the Pan-Asian community, it’s understandable if you feel uneasy and/or unsafe in your community.

In these moments, it may be helpful to create a safety plan for yourself and your loved ones. Safety plans enable the individual(s) to protect themselves and to be prepared for high-stress situations.

Safety Planning for Self

  • Make noise to bring attention
  • Share your location with trusted friends and family, and ask them to check in
  • Have a quick speed dial to an emergency person and/or police. Community alternatives to contacting the police by city is linked below!
  • Carry around pepper spray and/or another form of self-protection
  • Familiarize self with a few go-to self-defense moves that prioritizes running away. See Resources for beginner self-defense videos
  • Be aware of surroundings and limit your distractions in unfamiliar territory (e.g., listening to music, checking your phone, reading, etc.)
  • Understand your rights–especially if you are forced to interact with police. See Resources for more information

Home Safety

  • Install security cameras outside, around the perimeter of the house and by entrances
  • Alert and/or signal neighbors if you notice suspicious behavior
  • Improve visibility with outdoor lighting by entrances (e.g., sensor-activated, timed, etc.)
  • Make sure there is quick-access to a phone in your rooms
  • Consider a home security system, depending on your needs

Safety Planning for Elders

  • Explore signing up for safety escorts with local community organizations
  • Have an easily accessible speed dial for a local support person they can call
  • Go to large gatherings (e.g., groceries markets, restaurants, etc.) in groups or with a friend/family member
  • Check in with older relatives daily
  • Share their phone location with you

Safety Planning for Children

  • Teach who to contact during an emergency
  • Provide them with a user-friendly phone
  • Practice dialing emergency numbers, and consider roleplaying as the operator for them to verbally practice

Home Safety

  • Identify a room that the child can go to when they’re feeling afraid or seeking comfort
  • Create a secret code that would inform the child on when to leave the house in an escalated situation. Plan ahead on where or to whom they should go to

This list is not inclusive, and safety plans should be curated towards the individual and their unique situations. See dontcallthepolice.com for community alternatives to have in your back pocket.

Practice continuous education for yourself and those around you on the racially unjust system and events that perpetuates violence against Asian Americans. Feel free to register for free bystander intervention and trainings with Hollaback! and peruse the basic self-defense videos hosted by AAPI Women Lead below.


For immediate needs for assistance:

  • Bayview Neighborhood: 415 531 8951
  • Chinatown Neighborhood: 415 652 7822
  • Midmarket/Tenderloin: 415 531 7357
  • Mission District: 415 531 7201
  • Visitacion Valley/Portola: 415 531 9087

211 Sacramento: https://www.211sacramento.org/211/

Dial 2-1-1 for free, 24-hour social, health and disaster services information. 2-1-1 is a one-stop source of information for people looking for community services and resources, especially for those who need essential services, such as food, shelter, counseling, employment assistance, and more. Callers receive personalized information from a live resource specialist. 2-1-1 is confidential and available in more than 200 languages and dialects.

Report Asian Hate Crime Incident: https://stopaapihate.org/

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/

24/7 Crisis Hotlines:

  • U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline (English & Spanish): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
  • National Runaway Safeline: 800-786-2929
  • Trans Lifeline: U.S: 877-565-8860 | CA: 877-330-6366
  • Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386
  • National Coalition Of Anti-Violence Programs for LGBTQ Communities (English & Spanish): 212-714-1141

Crisis Text Line (if you are uncomfortable or not in an environment to speak on the phone):

  • US & Canada: Text HOME to 741741
  • UK: Text 85258
  • Ireland: Text 50808

Lifeline Crisis Chat: http://www.Suicidepreventionlifeline.Org (available 24/7)

Non-24/7, Non-Crisis Hotlines:

  • LGBTQ Helpline For South Asians (Thu/Sun nights, 8-10 PM EST/5-7 PM PST): 908-367-3374
  • GLBT National Hotline (Monday-Friday: 1pm-9pm PST (4pm-12AM EST), Saturday: 9am-2pm PST (noon-5pm EST)): 888-843-4564
  • GLBT National Youth Talkline (Monday-Friday: 1 pm–9 pm PST (4 pm–midnight EST), Saturday: 9 am–2 pm PST (noon–5 pm EST): 800-246-7743
  • Love is Respect for Youths and Partner Abuse (live chat function available): 866-331-9474

Volunteer Resources:

  • DM to schedule to be an safety patrols in the San Francisco Instagram: @chinatownsafetypartol
  • Instagram: @chineseprogressiveassociation


  • National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Safety Planning with Children
  • Safety Tips and Safety Planning with Children

9 Ways to Safely Celebrate this Holiday Season

As we continue to celebrate and plan for the holiday season, it’s more than okay to feel down and discouraged since it will most likely be different from prior years. Although we may not be able to uphold all cherished traditions, we hope you are able to create new ones that you will bring to our next “normal” holiday season. Whether you’re celebrating with your loved ones in-person or virtually, here are nine ideas to help love and maintain community in a safe way this year!

  1. Create a list of all of your holiday traditions (with food, decorations, activities) and try to see what you can keep and/or adjust your plans to. Being able to maintain some traditions will help keep the holiday spirit.
  2. Curate a menu and cook with members of your household. If you’re unable to celebrate together in person, plan to cook the same meal virtually and buy all of the ingredients ahead of time.
    If there’s a particular dish that you usually look forward to eating during holidays, reach out to the loved one who makes it and ask them for the recipe— or cook it with them!
  3. Plan a paint night! Find a Bob Ross or a painting video on YouTube and pick up some supplies from your local art supply store.
  4. Find a virtual volunteer opportunity. One site you can use is Idealist. (While browsing, make sure that you apply the “Virtual/ Remote” and “Volunteer” filters to your search.)
  5. Write letters to family and friends who aren’t able to celebrate with you this year.
  6. Write letters to patients at a local hospital, to the elderly, and/or to US Troops. When writing to patients and folx who require care, carefully read all mailing instructions to ensure that you’re handling the mail safely.
  7. Have virtual exchange gift parties. Use DrawNames to help (with no surprise) draw names, ask questions anonymously, and create wishlists. Set a time where you open the gifts all together virtually. If a gift comes early, make it a rule that participants have to wait until you all plan to meet.
    (Tip: their wishlist generator pulls items from Amazon. Support small businesses and include links and/or screenshots of products you’d like from their online stores.)
  8. If you are able to, go through old family albums and/or yearbooks together. If you’ll be celebrating with household members that you would like to learn more about, share photos of loved ones with one another.
  9. Reconnect with a distant relative or loved one that you wish you knew more about and ask them questions about their life story.

While things may be different this time around, we hope that you are still able to have a safe and happy holiday season!

Colonial Mentality in the Filipino-/American Community

An intro to Colonial Mentality and its effects on the Filipino-/American community, in recognition and celebration of Filipino American History Month. We acknowledge that there are many terms to describe the community: Filipinx/a/o, and have chosen to use “Filipino” in this resource.

On her flight back home from visiting my auntie in Canada, my mom looked up from her plane ticket to find that she was sitting next to a man who she had an inkling was also Filipino. She was eager to talk to him. After a bit of small talk, my mom was able to casually sneak in the question: “Pilipino ka ba?” (Are you Filipino?). To her delight, she found out that he was actually from Ilocos, her and my dad’s home province in the Philippines. Naturally, she started speaking to him in Ilokano. What was odd was that even though he clearly understood what she was saying, he continued responding back to her in English. Thinking he would be more comfortable speaking in Filipino (the national language of the Philippines), she changed dialects. He continued to respond in English. Confused, my mom asked him how long he had been in the States. She wondered, “Maybe he’s been away for so long that he’d just forgotten how to speak the language?” To her surprise, he responded “6 years.” My mom, who had moved to the States when she was 16, had been living in the US for nearly 35 years. She admitted that she had lost some of the vocabularies, but that there was no way the man on the plane could have forgotten how to speak both languages. As she was retelling this story to me, I could see the recounted look of annoyance and disappointment on her face. She asked, “Did he think he was better than me because he was speaking in English?” 

I think of this story often whenever I think of colonial mentality and its effects on the Filipino-/American community. First colonized by Spain for nearly 300 years from the 1560s to the 1890s, then Japan during World War II from 1941-1945, and then the US from 1898-1946, (in addition to the fact that the Philippines is an archipelago with each island and peoples having its own culture and identity), it is without saying that the Philippines’ culture and identity is difficult to grasp and define. (Let alone our history, which for the most part wasn’t recorded during the periods of colonization.) The uncertainties of what do and do not define our culture after having been colonized for so long have created colonial mentality, which has generated feelings of otherness and shame toward our identity and ultimately ourselves. 

What is Colonial Mentality?

By definition, it is “a form of internalized oppression that conditions colonized people to believe that their ethnic or cultural identity is inferior to Western culture or whiteness. Therefore, they live their lives striving to be westernized and learning to hate their indigenous roots.”1 Another definition is that it “involves . . . uncritical rejection of anything Filipino and . . . uncritical preference for anything American” (David & Okazaki, 2006b, p.241).

Colonial Mentality in Filipino-/Americans

Filipinos were enticed to move to the States for greater opportunities— a good majority going to Hawai’i to work on the pineapple plantations and in California on the Delano grape farms. There were expectations that when folx moved from the Philippines to the States, that they would be guaranteed enough wealth to support themselves and their families in the Philippines. 

In essence, my parents were raised with the pursuit of the American Dream in mind— that where they were was not enough. When they finally got here, they needed to assimilate to survive— to perfect their English, to give up dreams of school and/or pursuing careers that began in the Philippines, and quickly adapt to American customs. It is no wonder that they had lost a bit of themselves and their culture along the way. They were witnessing firsthand that being American was correct, and being Filipino was wrong.

Examples of Colonial Mentality

As a second-generation Filipino American, I experienced a trickle-down effect  with colonial mentality. My 9 cousins and I were raised by my grandma who learned to speak English, and spoke it well. Aside from eating the Filipino food that she made, making fun of our parents’ accents, and reluctantly helping our families change the TV channel from Nickelodeon to ABS-CBN at exactly 12pm so that they could watch the popular game show “Wowowee”, we didn’t talk about or learn anything about our history or culture. Oftentimes, when one of us acted  “too Filipino” we made fun of each other for it. “Whoa, you sound like your mom.”
“Ew, you said that with an accent.”
(Pointing to any Filipino dish): “You don’t have to eat that. My dad is ordering pizza.” 

The feelings of shame were intensified at school and more feelings of “otherness” arose. In elementary school, we were shamed for bringing Filipino food or anything that wasn’t American. In high school, I remember having two separate “Asian” groups: the one I spent time with, and the other we referred to as “the FOBs” who we made fun of for speaking in Tagalog all the time— as though speaking in our native tongue was wrong and comical. High school was also the first time I heard my friends proudly call themselves “coconuts” and “bananas” where they were brown or yellow on the outside, but white on the inside— proudly proclaiming that they had achieved whiteness.

Other examples that stem from colonial mentality include:

  • Being told not to stay out for too long “or else you’ll get dark”.
  • Using skin-whitening products
  • Pinching babies’ noses to make them appear sharper

Colonial Mentality and Mental Health

In addition to behaviors that perpetuate colonial mentality (ex: neighbor bathing kid in milk to achieve lighter complexion, not staying out in the sun, etc.), it is also important to address the insidious impacts of colonial mentality on our mental health. Surely, hearing constant messages about how being Filipino is bad or not good enough and striving to achieve unattainable whiteness will have an effect on how we may view ourselves in a negative light (e.g. self-doubt, low self-worth, self-esteem and low ethnic identity).  Researchers on Filipino American psychology have also found a relationship between colonial mentality and depression (Nadal, 2011). 

  1. Denigration of oneself (hating one’s own brown skin and/or “Filipino nose”, which could cause low self-esteem) 
  2. Denigration of one’s culture (e.g. believing that Filipino food is not as good as American pizza, not using Filipino language because English is superior, denying Filipino identity or claiming pride in self as “mixed Filipino-Spanish/Chinese/Hawaiian” but not claiming Filipino when asked about ethnicity) 
  3. Discrimination against those who are less acculturated (i.e. making fun of “FOBS” and/or  judging those with thick Filipino accents  as less intelligent) 
  4. Tolerance and acceptance of contemporary oppression of one’s ethnic group: acceptance, forgiveness and appreciation of the colonizer because of feelings of indebtedness; therefore denying any negative impact of colonialism 
  5. Hierarchy between Filipinos and Filipino-Americans/within groups based on how you look (more mestizo is better), education (American-educated vs Philippines-educated), religion (Catholic Christian vs Muslim Filipinos), language spoken, etc.

Decolonization and Healing Action Items (in no particular order)

Decolonization can be defined as “the process of humanizing the dehumanized by promoting positive mental health and identity for persons of colonized backgrounds” (Strobel, 2001).  Here are some action items you can take toward healing in no particular order:

  • Learning about the colonial history of Philippines
  • Reflecting on how colonial mentality is present in your life and those around you, and becoming aware of how it impacts your mental health
  • Having conversations with friends/family members about colonial mentality, collective strength, and resilience
  • Storytelling: share your experience with someone you trust and feel safe with, maybe someone who may have had similar experiences growing up or in their day-to-day lives
  • Cultivating hope, strength, resilience, and resistance (looking to our ancestors, leaning on spirituality, social support) 
  • If you have access, finding a culturally-responsive therapist who is willing to see and understand you as a whole and who you can talk to about your experiences of oppression, ethnic identity, etc.)
  • Engaging in social action/activism towards decolonization  
  • Connecting with community: become involved in a Filipino org/club/community that you feel safe, comfortable, and connect with
  • Practicing self-care in the process of healing. Find what works for you or things you enjoy. 
  • Being gentle with yourself and your healing. This is generations of colonialism/colonial mentality that you are trying to unlearn.

Reflection Questions

There is no wrong or right way to go around decolonization. But recognition and reflection are two of the first few steps we can take toward healing and reclaiming our identities. Here are a few questions to help get you started:

If you identify as Filipino-/American and/or believe you have experienced colonial mentality:

  • What are your parents’ and/or grandparents’ stories? How do they reflect on their views, time, and journeys to the US?
  • Growing up, what were some of the things that you faced that you believed stemmed from colonial mentality?
  • Reflect on moments in which you felt shame about your background. Why did those feelings of shame emerge?
  • What were you taught as good or bad?
  • In your point of view, what does it mean to be Filipino-/American? What are Filipino-/American values, traditions, practices, and characteristics that you’re proud of?

If you believe you have not experienced colonial mentality:

  • How can I support friends who may be healing and going through their journey in decolonization?
  • Have I made the effort to listen to the stories of people of color and/or marginalized voices?
  • Evaluate the quality and poverty of your friendships and your community. How can you offer and provide a space of inclusivity and belonging? (per Gabes Torres, IG: @gabestorres)

Looking Ahead

Decolonizing is reimagining something beyond the current world we live in. It’s challenging ourselves to dismantle what generations of colonial expansion and Western exceptionalism have taught us as  “better, more beautiful, more refined, etc.”  Derek Sivers, an American writer, mentioned in his book that “fish don’t know they’re in water.” We have been surrounded by this mentality. It’s no wonder that we haven’t realized why we think the way we think or act the way we act. 

Remember, decolonizing takes a lot of conscious and constant effort to unlearn.  And often, it’s easier to swim with the current than fight against it. In order to reframe our thinking and change our perspective, we first have to understand what we are decolonizing from. 

When we challenge colonial mentality, we begin to accept and embrace ourselves for who we are. We start to put aside shame and celebrate where we’ve come from. It’s time to jump out of the water.


  • Find a therapist who understands and celebrates your identity. A good place to start is Inclusive Therapists 
  • FilAm psychology related books:
    • Brown Skin, White Minds by EJR David (talks A LOT about colonial mentality!)
    • Filipino American Psychology Handbook of theory, research and clinical practice by Kevin Nadal
    • Latinos of Asia by Anthony Ocampo
  • General decolonizing related resources:
    • Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith
    • My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
    • Finding Our Way Podcast with Prentis Hemphill
  • Other resources

Special thank you to Paula Ong and Jess Hernandez (IG: @hernandezjess) for their time, support, ideas, and guidance with this project. 


Written by: Cassandra Balbas

Seeking Virtual Mental Health Care

45% of adults say that the pandemic has affected their mental health.

The pandemic has created a paradox in our mental health care. At this time when we are in more need of support for anxiety and depression, the resources that provide it are harder to access in person.

Should I consider starting therapy now, especially if I can’t go in person?

You might not have previously felt the need for mental health services, but can now be struggling on how to deal with the increased anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation due to the pandemic. Searching for a health provider, especially a mental health one, can be daunting. Surprisingly, now is actually a good time to find low-threshold access to care.

You can avoid the trek from office to office, find lower copays, and expand your search for licensed clinicians beyond just your state. Therapy is more available than ever, and at potentially better prices.

What about cost – what if I don’t have insurance?

It’s crucial to understand how you will pay for therapy. Consider looking into Federally Qualified Health Centers – community-based centers that offer mental health and substance use services. They are required to prioritize individuals living within their areas of service, so be sure to look into those within your neighborhood.

Many health centers are authorized and encouraged to provide Telehealth services right now.

What about cost – what if I do have insurance?

With private health insurance, many providers are currently waiving copays for Telehealth visits. Some states like California and Arizona are ordering companies to cover Telehealth services.

Be sure to do a deep dive of your insurance benefits and policies. It’s important to understand how much your deductible is (if you have a high deductible plan), how to file claims if a therapist is out of network, and how much your plan covers for mental health services.

Many therapists offer a sliding scale fee for sessions, depending on your level of income. You can bring this up during the initial phone consultation if financials are an issue.

How do I go about finding a therapist I like?

If you have insurance, you can use your insurance member portal to find covered practitioners. If that doesn’t apply to you, you can use other reputable online sources such as Teladoc, Amwell, MDLIve, or Doctor on Demand.

Therapy Brands has a directory searchable by region and speciality, and Psychology Today has a directory for of therapists for price comparisons. Using a mix of multiple sources can help in your research on potential practitioners.

You can also use online therapist matching sources if you prefer receiving recommendations based on your form responses. Some resources are Advekit, My Wellbeing, and Inclusive Therapists.

What should I expect with virtual therapy?

Expect some awkwardness at first
No matter what channel, online therapy will be a different experience from an in-person session. Don’t be agitated if it doesn’t feel like you and your therapist are instantaneously in syync.

Practice speaking your emotions directly
If you’ve been to in-person therapy, you may be used to your practitioner being able to observe your body language and facial expressions to pick up on your emotions. Without bodily cues, it can be more effective for you to start flexing these self-awareness muscles out loud in a safe space.

Anything else I should know in preparation?

Ask about free phone consultations
Most therapists offer a free 15 minute phone call before a session. This is a great time not only for you to express why you’re seeking therapy, but also to understand their qualifications, therapy style, and costs.

Take time to find the right match
It may take sessions with different therapists to see what style of communication is most effective for you. Don’t be discouraged if the first person you meet with isn’t a match – it’s normal to see a few different people before finding a practitioner you connect with.


7 Tips for Making the Most of online Therapy During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Therapists and Patients Find Common Ground: Virus-Fueled Anxiety
How to find a therapist during the Covid-19 pandemic

Safety Planning for Suicide Prevention

Download Printable Black and White PDF of the Safety Plan Here

September is Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month

Though it is critical and life-saving to create individual safety plans in case you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts and ideation, it’s important to note that suicide prevention also includes more accessible health care, destigmatizing mental health, breaking cycles of trauma, and nurturing community care. 

Below, you’ll find a safety plan template for crisis recovery and suicide prevention. You can also download a PDF version here.

Safety Plan for Crisis Recovery

What are some warning signs and potential triggers (mood, behaviors, images, thoughts)?

What can bring me or the subject of this safety plan comfort without contacting another person (meditation, journaling, exercise, taking a walk)?

People to call and/or text for help, distraction, or comfort:

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Places I can go or think of that bring safety and comfort.

Safe Transportation Methods: 

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Professional Support to Contact During a Crisis: 

Community Worker: ____________________________________
Phone: __________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Therapist: ______________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Local Police: ____________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Local Hospital: _________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

24/7 Crisis Hotlines:

U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline (English & Spanish): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Trans Lifeline: U.S: 877-565-8860 | CA: 877-330-6366
Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386

Crisis Textline (if you are uncomfortable or not in an environment to speak on the phone):
US & Canada: Text HOME to 741741
UK: Text 85258
Ireland: Text 50808

Lifeline Crisis Chat: 
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org (available 24/7)

Center for the Asian Pacific Family, 24-Hour Multilingual Crisis Helpline:
AASRA 24/7 Hotline (Based in Mumbai):
91-9820466726 (Languages :  English, Hindi.)

Warning Signs

There is no one single cause or sets of indicators. However, the following are commonly identified warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about suicide (includes jokes and indirect remarks)
  • Finding ways to take ones own life, including stockpiling items
  • A change of day-to-day routine
  • Increased risk-behavior such as alcohol and drug use, walking alone at night, driving recklessly
  • Developing personality changes such as irritability, anxiousness, agitation
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Talking about being a burden to others

Every safety plan and road to recovery looks different, we encourage you to approach each situation and each person with empathy. If you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide, reach out, listen, maintain communication, and implement a safety plan that fits their needs. Do not be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional for further guidance.

Suicide Statistics

Content warning: The following information goes over data related to suicide and suicide attempts, and may be triggering to some readers. Should you choose to continue reading and find yourself in need of immediate help at any time, please refer to our Find Help page here. Thank you.

  • Based on CDC’s Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2018:
    • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
    • In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide
    • In 2018, there were an estimated 1.4M suicide attempts
    • The highest U.S. age-adjusted suicide rate was among Whites (16.84 in 100,000) and the second highest rate was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (14.12). Rates for Black or African Americans was 7.03, and for Asians and Pacific Islanders, it was 7.16. 1
  • 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. 2

Statistics in BIPOC Communities:

Indigenous/ Alaska Native Community

  • For American Indian and Alaska Native populations, the age-adjusted suicide death rate increased from 15.4 per 100,000 in 2009 to 22.1 per 100,000 in 2018.​3
  • American-Indian/Alaskan Native women aged 15-24 have the highest suicide rate compared to all racial/ethnic groups.4
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34.5

Black, African American Community

  • Among children age 5-11, black children had the highest rate of death by suicide. (Between 1993-1997 and 2008-2012, it increased from 1.36 to 2.54 per 1 million, compared to 1.18 to 1.09 per 1 million among all children). 6
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15 to 24.7
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was more than four times greater than for African American women, in 2017.
  • African American females, grades 9-12, were 70 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2017, as compared to non-Hispanic white females of the same age.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percent, as compared to 120 percent of non-Hispanic whites.8

Asian American Community

  • Suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, ages 15 to 24, in 2017.
  • Asian American females, in grades 9-12, were 20 percent more likely to attempt suicide as compared to non-Hispanic white female students, in 2017.
  • Southeast Asian refugees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with trauma experienced before and after immigration to the U.S. One study found that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care were diagnosed with PTSD.
  • The overall suicide rate for Asians Americans is half that of the non-Hispanic white population.9

Hispanic/ Latino American Community

  • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2017.
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, ages 15 to 34.10
  • Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 40 percent higher than for non-Hispanic white girls in the same age group, in 2017.
  • Non-Hispanic whites received mental health treatment twice as often as Hispanics, in 2018. 11

Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islander Community

  • In 2018, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults had similar rates of mental illness as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • However in 2018, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were significantly less likely to receive mental health services or to receive prescription medications for mental health treatment.
  • National behavioral health statistics for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders is limited at this time.12