Edina Asian American Alliance unites with thousands in a local walk for mental health


Olivia Brinkman

Photo of the walk for mental health

Olivia Brinkman, Staff Writer

The Edina Asian American Alliance gathered on Sept. 24, 2022 at Minnehaha Park with thousands of participants and prepared to take steps towards a 5k finish line and a brighter future for mental health. For the event, the EAAA partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, looking to raise $400,000 to promote the importance of mental wellbeing. EAAA, specifically, used the walk as a way to move forward after the challenging spring Edina’s Asian American community faced. 

Prior to the walk, EAAA members met and discussed the effects that this particular spring had on Edina Asian American students’ mental health. “Particularly since COVID, the explosion of anti-Asian hate, racism, and sentiment have taken a huge emotional and mental toll on the Asian and Asian American community,” EAAA leader Kelly Condit-Shrestha said. “This attack on a community’s mental health is not proactively addressed… Society’s institutions wait to respond to the escalation of hate incidents.”

Condit-Shrestha hoped the walk would spark greater awareness and financial support around mental health, in addition to uniting the Edina community. “I would like to see the internalized stigma regarding mental health—the shame or cultural resistance—to therapy and mental health support disappear. These internalized stigmas stop people from reaching out for help,” she said. “Children and youth pick up on these sometimes unsaid internalized biases… and this perpetuates the cycle of silence and harm.” 

EAAA member Dhanalakshmi Panneerselvam had a similar vision of the walk, and hoped for “equality of opportunities… [and] low bias.” In addition to adults and educators, EHS students recognized the growing need for mental health awareness. “I think the pandemic really highlighted that we need to focus on [mental health] more,” senior Anand Khariwala said at the startline of the event. “I think [the walk] will unite people, it’ll show people that there are people that want to rise above the stigmas.”