Expressed Needs of Mental Health Patients

Model Minority at Risk: Expressed Needs of Mental Health
by Asian American Young Adults
Sunmin Lee Æ Hee-Soon Juon Æ Genevieve Martinez Æ
Chiehwen E. Hsu Æ E. Stephanie Robinson Æ
Julie Bawa Æ Grace X. Ma
Published online: 18 October 2008
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008
Abstract The objective of this study is to obtain and discuss in-depth information on mental health problems,
including the status, barriers, and potential solutions in 1.5
and 2nd generation Asian American young adults. As a part
of the Health Needs Assessment project, the researchers
conducted two focus groups with 17 young adults (mainly
1.5 or 2nd generation) from eight Asian American communities (Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian,
Korean, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese) in Montgomery
County, Maryland. We developed a moderator’s guide with
open-ended questions and used it to collect qualitative data.
Using a software, we organized and identified emergent
themes by major categories. Participants reported a several
common sources of stress that affect the mental health of
Asian American young adults including: pressure to meet
parental expectations of high academic achievement and live
up to the ‘‘model minority’’ stereotype; difficulty of balancing two different cultures and communicating with
parents; family obligations based on the strong family values; and discrimination or isolation due to racial or cultural
background. Young Asian Americans tend not to seek professional help for their mental health problems; instead they
use personal support networks—close friends, significant
others, and religious community. Participants suggested that
Asian cultural norms that do not consider mental problems
important, and associated stigma of seeking professional
care might undermine their mental health help seeking
behavior. Our findings support a need for delivering culturally appropriate programs to raise awareness of mental
health and cultural training for health providers to deliver
culturally appropriate care.
Keywords Mental health Asian American
Young adults Immigrant health 1.5 generation
2nd generation
Mental health is an extremely important, but commonly
overlooked health topic in Asian American (hereafter, AA)
S. Lee (&)
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics,
University of Maryland School of Public Health,
1242 M SPH Bldg, College Park, MD 20742, USA
e-mail: [email protected]
E. S. Robinson
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics,
University of Maryland School of Public Health,
SPH Bldg, College Park, MD 20742, USA
H.-S. Juon
Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, 704,
Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
G. Martinez
Department of Public and Community Health,
University of Maryland School of Public Health,
SPH Bldg, Valley Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA
C. E. Hsu
of Texas School of Health Information Sciences,
7000 Fannin, Suite 830/840, Houston, TX 77030, USA
J. Bawa
Asian American Health Initiative, Montgomery County
Department of Health and Human Services,
1335 Piccard Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA
G. X. Ma
Department of Public Health & Center for Asian Health,
Temple University, 1700 N. Broad

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