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A year after metro Atlanta spa shootings, there is a lingering mental health toll on Asian Americans

One year later, the Asian American community is still grieving, and local psychotherapists said many are seeking professional help.

ATLANTA — One year after the spa shootings, the Asian American community as a whole is still grieving, and dealing with the trauma from that day.

Vena Kim Cain, an Asian American psychotherapist in midtown Atlanta, said the spa shootings impacted her community on many levels.

"I experienced massive amounts of grief from the incident and couldn't leave the house for two weeks because I didn't know when I would burst into crying," Kim Cain said.

Kim Cain said her emotions were nearly uncontrollable. 

"It triggered sort of memories of a lifetime of survival in terms of micro aggressions, racism, hyper sexualization, fetishism. It all came to light and erupted,” said Kim Cain.

When it comes to dealing with grief and trauma, many Asian Americans don’t reach out to talk to a professional. Previous research from the National Latino and Asian American Study shows Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek help than white Americans.

"We’re used to not speaking up, and trying to blend in, and keep the status quo, and not make any waves," Kim Cain said. "And that sort of prevents us from being able to, and desiring to, speak up. It's a way to keep us safe."

But Kim Cain said that changed for many after the spa shootings tragedy.

"There was a huge wave of Asian Americans looking for mental health help after that,” she said.

Kim Cain added that the Asian American therapists she knows saw a large increase in Asian American clients.

"Because there's an inherent understanding of what the experience is like without having to explain it, without having to justify it, without being questioned," she explained.

Kim Cain said for Asian Americans, especially women, the shootings sadly validated what they have experienced for years.

"That all these micro aggressions and hyper sexualizations , portrayals and assumptions about us are violent and can turn into actual violence,” said Kim Cain.

Now, one year later, Kim Cain said the healing has just begun. By joining together as a community, they’re finding hope.

"The spa shootings mobilized the Asian American community and so many groups came together in terms of support, and Asian American therapists around Georgia came together and we have become a community since then," she said.

Kim Cain said one good thing to come out of the tragedy is there are now many more resources available for mental health help for Asian Americans.

Click here to find Asian American mental health help, go to Asian Mental Health Professionals of Georgia or Asian Mental Health Collective

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