Culture and Language: How Stigma Can Impact Students’ Mental Health Conversations

College students in America have had a rise in mental health concerns, finding themselves facing internal and external troubles when seeking support and open dialogue. Although past studies discuss the external factors that impact the rise in mental health concerns in college students, few discuss the cultural factors that affect these college students’ ability to seek and maintain support– particularly in the Chinese community, which has been found to carry a stigma for mental health. This study looks at the cultural influences that impact the conversation surrounding the mental health of Chinese college students. Using data from semi-structured interviews, this study frames the cultural reasons for how Chinese college students view mental health and support for mental health. Chinese UCLA undergraduate students discuss their mental health experience in three different contexts: with themselves, their family, and their friends. These students emphasize the difficulties of growing up in a community that stigmatizes mental health and lacks an open dialogue about it. Conversations growing up had impacted their own perceptions. These students needed to learn how to approach mental health conversations. The experiences and perceptions of mental health discussion of these students suggest that stigma perpetuated through communication can cause Chinese students and others from stigmatizing cultures to face various cultural challenges that hinder them from feeling confident in seeking resources.

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