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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cultural Affiliation and Mental Health Disruptions of Second Generation Asian Americans in College

  • Author(s): Sim, Jae Won
  • et al.

The subject of mental health is something that is often stigmatized and overlooked in conversations, and this holds especially true for people of immigrant backgrounds coming from places and cultures in which mental health is a topic that is not discussed and has not been widely recognized and regularly treated in the mainstream, such as in many Asian cultures. In my research, through literary analysis and four qualitative interviews, I delve into how the cultural identity of Second Generation Asian Americans (SGAA) plays a role in their mental health states as well as in their mental health care as they go on their journey in higher education in pursuit of “the American Dream”. Without proper recognition, prioritization, and treatment of mental health issues and without ways to find the root of a problem and address it in order to find better ways to cope, 2nd generation immigrant youths are at large risk to fall into harmful cycles that can be detrimental and injurious to their progress and their lives. I will delve into the how factors such as immigration stress, assimilation, cultural differences, dual identity, family pressures, racialization, and the model minority myth contribute to the higher risk of mental health complications for SGAA in college, threatening their ability to thrive and sometimes even to survive. Hopefully, with a better understanding of the social conditions that SGAA face in college, better systems of mental health support and treatment can be widely circulated to help future generations of SGAA understand and cope with their unique predicaments.

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