Korean American Mental Health Association (KAMHA) was founded in 2015 by a group of social workers, marriage and family therapists, and aspiring psychologists in Orange County in response to the growing Korean communities in the area as well as their accompanying mental health needs. Seventeen Korean American social workers and therapists attended its inaugural meeting, and since then the membership has nearly tripled as of 2020. From its inception, KAMHA was interested in linking the Korean community with resources, educating the population on mental health, decreasing the stigma on receiving human services, and increasing the overall well-being of this underserved community. We were encouraged by the enthusiastic support for a movement in the Korean American community for culturally relevant and effective counseling and interventions for the community.
In the past few years, KAMHA hosted a screening of “the Laundromat,” a film on Asian American mental health and stigma, at the annual Multi-Ethnic Arts & Family Festival at the Bowers Museum, and invited numerous guest speakers on topics that were relevant to mental health services for Korean populations. Collectively, KAMHA identified the service gaps in Korean American communities as follows: a) Senior mental health services; b) Gambling addiction; c) Group-based programs; d) Prevention programs for the youth; and e) Alzheimer’s support group.
As a member-driven organization, KAMHA relies on everyone’s inputs and ideas.With its mission in mind, Networking, Education and Advocacy to advance the mental well-being of Korean Americans in Orange County, KAMHA plans to continue to support its members through education and networking opportunities, and to advocate for equitable and culturally appropriate mental health services for Korean communities in the region.