The Filipino American teens embracing mental wellness ‘without shame’


A peer-to-peer program called “Walang Hiya,” developed by nonprofit Search To Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), is empowering Filipino American teens in Los Angeles’ historic Filipino town to address mental health challenges. The program, meaning "shameless" or "without shame" in Filipino, aims to reclaim the term and encourage open conversations about mental health.

  • Destigmatizing mental health: Walang Hiya addresses issues specific to the Filipino American experience, such as colorism, cultural expectations and the pressure to conform to Western ideals. Facilitators discuss mental health issues like depression and anxiety, while also incorporating coping mechanisms and discussions on Filipino heritage. Participants learn coping mechanisms and build a supportive community through workshops, discussions and creative expression.

  • Finding common ground: SIPA Development Coordinator Kevin Sandoval Casasola, who like many others didn't learn Filipino from his parents, highlights a common experience among Filipino Americans: “You're kind of looked down upon if you don't speak the language. We recognize through this program, as students talk to one another, that something that's shared — this feeling of not being Filipino enough.” Through Walang Hiya, participants learn the importance of cultural identity and are encouraged to embrace their heritage.

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