202173 Chinese youth in San Francisco: An assessment of mental health needs, support strategies, and gaps in services

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amie Fishman, MPH (c) , San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Bonnie Hom, MPH(c) , San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Ashley Iwanaga, MPH(c) , San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Alecia Martin, MPH(c) , San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Research shows that Chinese American youth experience a range of mental health problems, including depression, stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. However, their mental health needs are often not adequately addressed. Two misconceptions partially explain the unmet need: (1) the prevalent misconception that this group represents a "model minority," and (2) the aggregation of Asian sub-groups into one entity, leading to insufficient information about the mental health needs of Chinese American youth. In collaboration with the community-based organization NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, a community health assessment was conducted, examining mental health needs among a convenience sample of San Francisco's Chinese American youth ages 13 to 18. Focusing on support strategies as well as gaps in existing mental health services, the assessment included an in-depth literature review about mental health issues facing Chinese American youth, interviews with local community youth service providers, and focus groups with forty-two Chinese American youth. Findings suggest that negative mental health outcomes result primarily from: (a) perceived child-parent conflict and dissonance; (b) high academic expectations; and (c) racism. Additionally, cultural stigma and shame about mental health among Chinese American youth, coupled with youths' lack of knowledge about mental health may explain why mental health needs go unmet. The assessment concludes that this population needs comprehensive, culturally relevant mental health support, integrated into existing community-based activities, that expands their understanding of mental health, reduces internal and external stigma about mental health, contributes to improved family relationships, decreases pressure and stress, and generates positive self-esteem and bicultural identity.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three major factors negatively impacting the mental health of Chinese youth. 2. Articulate at least three coping strategies, both positive and negative, utilized by Chinese youth to deal with factors negatively impacting their mental health. 3. Describe two central barriers to accessing mental health services for Chinese youth. 4. Discuss three recommendations to address the barriers to accessing mental health services for Chinese youth.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a member of the team that developed and conducted this community health assessment, analyzed the data, and developed findings and recommendations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.