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HOUSTON (KIAH) — Following the tragic death of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide a few weeks ago, local Houston pageant winner Eileen Dong says she was compelled to speak about her own mental heath struggles.

Dong is a 2021 USA Ambassador Pageant title-holder. Originally from Shanghai, China, she was born during the time the Chinese government had implemented the one-child policy.

“When I was growing up, my dad was beating me up for no reason, and I did everything just to please him,” Dong said.

She said that some emotional wounds are continuous work to heal. Cultural competent care is necessary for women like her and many whose struggles intertwine with their identity.

“In the Asian culture, there is an honor and shame system, and this is one of the many reasons we don’t talk about that. And I don’t call and tell my mother (that) I’m depressed.”

Eileen Dong, Pageant winner

Dong also said that “we need to normalize not being OK and celebrate all victories like getting degrees and titles. Even the small victories like getting out of bed and putting on coral lipstick, are enough.”

If you are struggling with mental health, the Houston Hope hotline is here to help.