Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Asian Pacific American Officer Committee


History of APAOC’s Healthy Mind Initiative (HMI)

Suicide in Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth is the leading cause of death in those 10-19 years old.1 Within the AANHPI community, mental health awareness is challenging and AANHPI is less likely to seek help for mental health issues than other racial and ethnic groups due to language barriers, lack of culturally sensitive educators, and mental health stigma. In response to this urgent challenge, the Asian Pacific American Officer Committee (APAOC) established the Healthy Mind Initiative (HMI) in 2018 to raise awareness on youth mental health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage parents and youth among AANHPI communities to seek help when needed.

HMI, in partnership with the Office of Behavioral Health Equity in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); the Asian American Health Initiative of the Montgomery County Health and Human Service, Maryland; the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD); USPHS Social Work Professional Advisory Group, Psychology Professional Advisory Group; the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC); and AANHPI community organizations, served as an example of how Commissioned Corps officers conducted community events in collaboration with local, state, tribal, and nongovernmental organizations to provide public health services for the underserved populations.

HMI is Expanding

Following the advice of RADM (ret.) Sylvia Trent-Adams during her tenure as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in 2018 2 and more recently the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on “Protecting Youth Mental Health” by VADM Vivek Murthy in 2021 3, APAOC has been leading the effort to expand the HMI in the general public beyond the AANHPI communities.

APAOC developed an updated HMI Lesson Plan in collaboration with the Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE), which received the approval from the Office of the Surgeon General in September 2022 for nationwide implementation to promote mental health and well-being of youth in all populations, with parents and caregivers of middle to high school youth as the target audience.

In 2023, APAOC developed the training program in collaboration with PACE to train members from both APAOC and PACE’s Surgeon General Education Teams (SGETS) to deliver the HMI Lesson Plan in all communities nationwide.

HMI’s Accomplishments

HMI’s Impacts

  • The HMI presentation and articles in 2018 and 2019 reached eight (8) USPHS Categories and AANHPI communities in seven (7) HHS agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Indian Health Service, and SAMHSA, and local COA chapters.
  • By 2019, over 2,000 individuals in AANHPI communities nationwide benefited from improved awareness on how to help children with stress, academic pressure, trauma, and other factors that can lead to suicide, and through open discussion on youth mental health and challenges.
  • In 2019, Montgomery County, Maryland, issued an official proclamation recognizing HMI’s impact on promoting mental health awareness.
  • The NIMHD and NIH published two blog posts on HMI by 2019, which has approximately 15,000 subscribers.
  • Multiple organizations built on HMI’s success and have organized two National Essay Contests entitled, “Speaking up About Mental Health! This Is My Story,” which explored ways to address the stigma surrounding mental health and social barriers that adolescents may encounter.
    • Sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Calvin J. Li Memorial Foundation in 2020 with over 235 essay submissions and 12 awardees.
    • Sponsored by the NIMH, NIMHD, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2022 with ~300 essay submissions and 15 awardees.
  • Enabled PACE to mobilize SGET members to deliver HMI Lesson Plan to all populations nationwide.
  • APAOC’s presentations at national meetings raised awareness among over 4,000 public health professionals on the Surgeon General’s priority on protecting youth mental health.


If you are interested in joining effort to APAOC’s HMI, please reach out to APAOC’s Community Engagement Workgroup led by:

Related activities:

Since 2022, APAOC has been collaborating with SAMHSA to promote 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in AANHPI communities.


  1. CDC WISQARS™ — Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. Retrieved on Dec 14, 2022, 
  2. APAOC 2018 Winter Newsletter. Page 2.
  3. APAOC 2018 Healthy Mind Initiative Special Edition.

Page Last Modified on 8/8/2023

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