Community Mental Health Engagement with Racially Diverse Populations - Chapter 3: Engaging parents to promote mental health among Chinese American youth

Elsevier, Community Mental Health Engagement with Racially Diverse Populations, May 2020, Pages 49-82
Cixin Wang, Jia Li Liu, Kieu Anh Do, Xiaoping Shao, Huixing Lu

Mental health challenges are common and often develop during adolescence. Despite their portrayal as “model minorities,” Chinese American youth report higher rates of race-related distress, internalizing symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and parent–child conflict relative to their White peers. Although mental health prevention and intervention programs exist, Chinese Americans underutilize services due to cultural stigma, differences in the conceptualization of mental health and illness, and language barriers. Culturally responsive community engagement activities for parents are beneficial for helping de-stigmatize mental illness, reduce cultural and intergenerational parent–child conflict, and enhance protective factors for youth. This chapter outlines a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project where academic researchers and community organization leaders identify mental health and parenting needs through a needs assessment and panel discussion. Findings informed the development of a 4- to 6-week psychoeducational parenting workshop, Parent–Teen Connect, whose goals are to promote parents’ knowledge of the mental health challenges second-generation Chinese immigrant youth face and increase the use of positive parenting strategies at home. To date, about 85 parents from three community settings participated in the workshops. Among them, 61 parents completed surveys and provided generally positive feedback of the workshop series. This chapter describes how we established partnerships, achieved community buy-in, and the challenges and successes associated with the design, implementation, and evaluation of the workshops. Although this project is ongoing, preliminary findings validate the feasibility of using a CBPR framework to reach and empower Chinese American families.