Let’s Talk about Health & Wellness: Our Model of Community Care

TheCosmos_ H&W.png

The Cosmos started with a simple yet powerful question: What does it look like for Asian women to flourish and thrive?

Since we launched in March, this question has been our North Star — not because we have all the answers figured out, but because it challenges our community to think differently about our wellbeing. Big questions like this initiate much-needed dialogue around our definitions of livelihood and set up a strong foundation for transformation. But it’s important to emphasize that we can only ask questions if we have the words to describe what we’re going through.

When Karen and I first met, we bonded immediately over shared experiences of struggling to articulate what we felt and consequently, struggling to get what we needed. For Asian women who might have grown up speaking multiple languages, inherited multiple sets of values, and are immersed in multiple cultures, it’s not always easy to express what we endure. Without the ability to translate our experiences or feelings into words that can be understood by others, it’s difficult to address what’s really going on at both the individual and community levels. Language empowers communication, connects us to those who are on similar journeys, and enables us to ask for help. This is why we’re creating a community committed to the process of self-inquiry and self-discovery.

The Cosmos was born out of need to create space to express all that has been left unsaid in our lives, families, and relationships. We imagined a community where naming our fears, uncertainties, anxiety, and doubts was not only supported, but normalized. And in doing so, we realized we need a new vocabulary — one that empowers us to celebrate our livelihood, encourages our right to flourish and thrive on our own terms, and welcome the possibility of being perpetually in progress.

This is what makes our approach to Health & Wellness different. We’re challenging stigma and creating a new way to talk about topics like mental health, anxiety, intergenerational trauma, fertility, and sex and pleasure through The Cosmos Health & Wellness Workshops in San Francisco and New York City. Our workshops are a platform for the diverse perspectives of incredible women leaders like the founders of BetterBrave, the co-founder of the popular co-working app Croissant, the co-founder of fertility app Carrot, and the amazing instructors at O.School, just to name a few.

Our workshops are intentionally 101 level because we believe easy access to information is a human right.

Every Cosmos workshop challenges stigma by offering a supportive space to not only talk, but also amplify our voices on topics that affect our community as well as our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.

The Cosmos Health & Wellness Series is an unapologetic call to action to practice wellbeing on your terms. For a community that has struggled to articulate what we face under stigma and shame, we’re asking you to join us in questioning loudly and proudly. Health and Wellness, whatever it means or looks like to you, is a prerequisite to accessing your fullest potential.

We recognize that our perspectives alone do not reflect or speak to every Asian identity. That’s why we’ve started our Create With Us program to provide a platform for people of color to share their skills and knowledge with the community. We need more voices at the table, and we want to hear yours!

Why are we focusing on Health & Wellness?

“Asian-American women suffer alone. They suffer quietly, and they die quietly. And even if they die, nobody makes a fuss about it.”
— Dr. Hyeouk Chris Hahm, Associate Professor of Social Work at Boston University and Founder of AWSHIP (Asian Women’s Health Initiative Project), a five-year study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health

Asian women are dying as mental health goes untreated. Asian women suffer in silence when stigma, cultural taboo, and pressure to succeed make it challenging to talk openly about mental health, much less ask for the care we needs. Research shows that Asian Americans are 2–5x less likely than white Americans to seek mental health services, and this statistic disproportionately affects our community, young and old.

This is the kind of news that keeps us up at night. But things are looking up. Internet bloggers, activists, and nonprofits are pointing out inequities in the healthcare system and advocating for care that considers cultural differences. National media is raising awareness for the work of individual therapists and organizations like Asian Community Mental Health Services. And the calls for representation are getting louder. We’re starting to see more Asian women grace magazine coversbook Netflix comedy specials, and land big roles in movies. This momentum feels good, but can we leverage it to do more? Can we mobilize as a community to break silence and take action? Can we change how we talk about Health and Wellness so that the conversations serve us?

We need more research informed by the experiences of different Asian communities, and we need more spaces led by people in our community.

We got into a room and made a list of every health topic that’s ever felt tough to talk about: sex, orgasms, birth control, intergenerational trauma, egg freezing, mental health, anxiety, stress, imposter syndrome, being invisible, unseen, unheard. We thought about the big elephant in the room: America’s healthcare system is not designed for communities of color. For example, what happens when the English language doesn’t offer a vocabulary for immigrants and refugees to express their condition? Communities of Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, and Bangladeshi Americans, who face higher rates of poverty and less access to health insurance, are met with higher financial barriers to access.

Towards a Future of “Effortless Sisterhood”

The Cosmos began with a question, but really came to life with a Retreat. Hundreds of women wrote to us after we wrote an open letter to the community, “Who is the Asian American woman?” Nineteen of them gathered in Seattle as strangers and left with the feeling of “effortless sisterhood.”

 Shoutout to  Slant’d  for their incredible work celebrating Asian Americans through personal storytelling.

Shoutout to Slant’d for their incredible work celebrating Asian Americans through personal storytelling.

We’ve heard that this type of community is new. So we want to be clear: this is not a sorority. If you’ve been searching for space to belong and feel celebrated as you are, hear us: you’re not alone.

1_uzTSXT608INA7YGGpbFNzA.jpeg

If you’re in New York, San Francisco, or Denver, come meet us at one of our workshops. For our LA crew, you can hang with us at our immersive 3-day Retreat in Joshua Tree.

And if you’re in any other city, you can join our community and meet the honest, open, supportive women leading this community. It’s not just us — it’s every member who’s led a workshop with us (20+ by the end of the summer!), every member who’s out there challenging norms and narratives with her hustle, every member who’s asking herself what it means to flourish and thrive, and encouraging others in her life do the same.

The Cosmos is here for you, and because of you.

Quick Links