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Crosscurrents: December 20, 2012

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It’s difficult to deal with any kind of illness when it hits. But when it affects your emotional and psychological health, it’s often impossible to even describe.

“I think if I were to describe it, it’d be like being in a dream state and not feeling like anything’s real," says Danise Sugita, one of the estimated 57 million Americans who currently suffer from mental illness. "Whether I go through good things or bad things, the feelings of just like this darkness I still have.” 

Sugita is fourth-generation Japanese American, and her experience is emblematic of the many issues Asian Americans face when it comes to mental health.

“I think with my family ... it’s a lot of keeping things within the family," Sugita says. "I think just reputation and not wanting to look bad to other people. When I was trying to get help with a psychologist and being on antidepressants, I remember my mom begin really disappointed with that: ‘Why can’t we just try to fix it on our own, why do we need to bring in other people?’"

Sugita spoke with KALW’s Erica Mu, who was awarded a California Endowment Health Journalism fellowship to take a closer look at mental health from an Asian American perspective. Mu spent six months reporting on this topic and brings us the series, “Asian American Mental Health: Inside Out.”To subscribe to the Crosscurrents podcast in iTunes, click here. To use another podcasting tool, click here.

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Erica Mu is a reporter and producer for the "Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project" in conjunction with KALW and the Association of Independents in Radio. Mu has reported on the serious side of health and the quirky side of arts, and she's also helped KALW pioneer the digital frontier as the news team’s web strategist and editor. Mu has also organized and directed KALW’s live storytelling events.