Cultural Processes and Interpersonal Factors Linked to the Mental Health of Asian-origin Youth: A Review of the Literature

Open Access
Tsai, Christine
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Mayra B�maca-Colbert, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kathryn Bancroft Hynes, Honors Advisor
  • Emilie Smith, Faculty Reader
  • Acculturation
  • Asian
  • Adolescence
  • Mental health
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Peers
According to the 2010 Census, Asians are the fastest growing population in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011a). Despite being stereotyped as the “model minority,” Asian-origin adolescents have the highest rates of depression and suicide compared to adolescents from other ethnic groups (Adkins, Wang, Dupre, van den Oord, & Elder, 2009). By examining literature on acculturation, relationships with parents and peers, depression, and suicide on mainstream and Asian adolescents, the current paper analyzes the connection between Asian adolescents’ acculturation experiences and poor mental health. Research indicates that acculturation processes contribute to the dissonance between immigrant parents and their children (B.S.K. Kim, 2007). The cultural dissonance, or acculturation gap, is characterized by differing beliefs and expectations in the parent-child relationship in their cultural values, communication styles, and perceptions of parental warmth and control. Oftentimes, this discrepancy leads to adjustment problems in Asian adolescents (Yeh, 2003). In peer relationships, Asian-origin adolescents encounter discrimination regularly and suffer the mental health consequences (Qin, Way, & Rana, 2008). The majority of literature on Asian adolescent depression has examined the parent-child relationship, but normative peer relationship factors have not been examined in this population. Limitations of the literature and future directions for research are discussed.