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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 25, 2011

Written by C.N.

Academic Research: Asian Americans and Mental Health

As part of this blog’s ongoing mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience, and for readers who like to keep on top of the latest academic research, I highlight new research and studies in academic journals about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. An article’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean an endorsement of its contents.

The widely-respected Asian American Pacific Islander Nexis journal has just released a special issue that focuses on various dimensions of mental health among Asian Americans:

AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans and Mental Health

Happy Buddha © Marcus Mok/Asia Images/Corbis

The UCLA Asian American Studies Center announces the publication of Asian American Pacific Islander Nexus Journal: Policy, Practice and Community, Special Issue on Mental Health. This issue features select papers presented at the first “State of AAPI Mental Health” conference held in 2010, which was a transdisciplinary gathering on mental health research, treatment, and practice among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). The release of the Special Issue on Mental Health is in conjunction with the second conference on Friday, April 22, 2011.

The goals of the two conferences and this special issue are to increase the understanding about mental health and service needs of AAPIs. Research has shown that AAPIs have unique economic, linguistic, and cultural characteristics that require specific mental health services that can adequately address their needs. This issue on Mental Health highlights some of the emerging research for AAPIs with topics ranging from current policies, new research paradigms, to personal and cultural
roadblocks in relation to mental health.

Contextualizing the challenges of addressing AAPI mental health, guest editors, Gilbert C. Gee (UCLA), Phillip D. Akutsu (CSU Sacramento), and Margaret Shih (UCLA), in their introduction illustrate how cultural, historical, and community diversity have led to underutilization of services and a lack of data. They call for new research that seriously considers the theories related to differences among diverse AAPI populations.

Marguerite Ro and Wendy Ho then provide an overview of the current California and Federal policies and legislation related to mental health in “Aligning Policy to the Mental Health Needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” The authors propose recommendations on how to better address issues of data and research, culturally competent services, and accountability of existing policies.

Frederick T.L. Leong and Zornitsa Kalibatseva, in “Comparative Effectiveness Research on Asian American Mental Health: Review and Recommendations,” provide an overview of the latest research paradigm called comparative effectiveness research (CER), which evaluates the efficacy of one or more interventions for a specific group. The authors urge researchers to use CER methods in order to stimulate more funding and foster a research environment that is responsive to the various issues in AAPI communities.

In the third manuscript, Phillip Akutsu and his colleagues discuss the issue of clients not showing up to their initial appointment to see a mental health provider in “Pre-Intake Attrition or Non-Attendance of Intake Appointments at an Ethnic-Specific Mental Health Program for Asian American Children and Adolescents.” Their findings show that key factors in motivating attendance involve matching the client’s language and ethnicity with the provider as well as fostering a personal connection between the provider and the client.

Van M. Ta et al. provide an ethnographic study in “Cultural Identity and Conceptualization of Depression among Native Hawaiian Women.” The authors seek to understand the correlation between cultural identity and depression among Native Hawaiian women. Their study across various age groups suggests that stressors resulting from U.S. occupation of Hawai’i such as acculturation, oppression, marginalization, and financial difficulties are important factors related to depression.

The issue closes with a non-theme article by Paul Ong and Albert Lee entitled, “Asian Americans and Redistricting: Empowering through Electoral Boundaries.” The authors contextualize the difficulties of building “communities of common interest” which ultimately helps preserve Asian American neighborhoods. They advocate for the need to bridge gaps and form coalitions to foster political empowerment for the AAPI community.

AAPI Nexus copies are $13.00 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling and 8.25% sales tax for California residents.