Asian Australian Mental Health: Asami Koike (Founder of Shapes and Sounds)

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Asian Australian Mental Health

Episode Topics (detailed timestamps below):

  • Growing up Japanese Australian 
  • Barriers for Asian Australians when seeking mental health services
  • The importance of cultural diversity in the mental health industry 
  • Impact of racism and cultural expectations on mental health
  • Asian Australians getting caught in the media crossfire (e.g. the rise of Korean culture vs Aus-China relations)
  • Following a non-traditional career path 
Asian Australian Mental Health Asami Koike Quote

On Asami Koike & Shapes and Sounds

Asami is the founder of Shapes and Sounds, the leading voice for Asian Australian mental health and wellbeing, seeking to normalise conversations about mental health in the community.

Born in Japan and coming to Australia at a young age, Asami, like many 1st& 2nd generation migrants, has had to navigate and finally accept her bi-cultural upbringing and identity.

As a registered music therapist, she noticed that many Asian Australians were falling between the gaps in the Australian mental health system and so she started Shapes & Shapes in 2019 to normalise conversations around racism & cultural expectations in the community and also provide specific resources, like a list of Asian Australian mental health practitioners for those seeking someone who can understand their own cultural background and upbringing.

This is not an episode that covers any particular mental health topic in-depth but rather an attempt to highlight Shapes and Sounds and some issues that are unique to many Asian-Australians. 

Make sure you join their community!

Shapes and Sounds Links & Resources

Final Words & Timestamps

This is the last podcast episode for the year and a topical conversation given the amount of craziness the pandemic has exposed all of us to. COVID and increasing anti-China sentiment have contributed to the feeling that Asian Australians are “different”, despite growing up here with many cultural values and perspectives similar to our peers.

I don’t want to speak for all Asian Australians as we all have very different life experiences but I hope this episode encourages people to talk more about specific challenges the community faces, especially around mental health.  

Many of the topics below are not Asian-Australian specific so feel free to listen in (the Zoom recording quality was a bit sketchy at times unfortunately). Stay safe and catch you all in the new year! 

Asami Introduction & Shapes and Sounds

  • 2:10 – Asami’s introduction, moving from Japan to Australia, realising the lack of cultural understanding in the mental health industry
  • 6:55 – What is Shapes & Sounds and the resources available on their website?
  • 7:54 – Asami’s thoughts on mental health in Japan
  • 9:20 – Growing up as a Japanese Australian & thoughts on Japanese Culture
On Mental Health
  • 11:05 – Defining mental illness & causes. Asian Australians suffering in silence
  • 14:00 – Why are Asian Australians less likely to seek help? Lack of cultural understanding in the Australian healthcare system, the impact of culture on mental health and why Asami created a list of Asian-Australian mental health practitioners.
  • 17:11 – When to reach out for help? The importance of seeking help regardless
  • 18:52 – Common barriers when trying to find help /  what’s holding people back from seeking help?
  • 20:18 – Women vs Men when seeking help
Topics Related to Asian Australians 
  • 21:30 – Specific issues related to Asian-Australians. Scarcity mindset + trauma. Is it generational?
  • 26:20 – Self-internalised racism
  • 28:50 – Impact of Asia-Australia relations (Japan & China). Media narrative. Opportunities for Asian-Diaspora communities
  • 33:00 – Impact of media, more positive Asian stories (rise of Kpop & Asian stories)
  • 39:00 – Gaslighting of Asian Australians


  • 42:40 – Following a non-traditional career path vs thoughts on taking a safe path and following your passions. What to do if you’re not feeling better after seeking help.  

Resources to find an Asian Psychologist in Australia ##asianaustralian ##asian ##mentalhealth ##mentalwellbeing

♬ Lofi – Domknowz