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January 2015


According to the 2008 U.S. Census, there are 15.5 million Asian Americans in the United States, and 17% are students enrolled in a university (Shea & Yeh, 2008). Asian American college students in higher education are oftentimes perceived as the “model minority” with high academic achievements and few mental and/or behavioral problems (Park, 2010). In contrast to this general assumption, studies have shown that many Asian American college students suffer from psychological distress (Abe-Kim et al., 2007; Breaux, Matsuoka, & Ryujin, 1997; Lee et al., 2009; Mallinckrodt, Shigeoka, & Suzuki, 2005; Nguyen & Anderson, 2005). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008) highlighted considerable disparities in mental health among racial/ethnic groups, including the fact that Asian Americans 15–24 years old have significantly higher suicidal rates than do other racial/ethnic groups of the same age range. Researchers have attributed this mental health disparity to Asian students’ underutilization of professional services. Consequently, a growing number of empirical studies have been conducted to identify the contributors to low mental health service utilization (Abe-Kim et al., 2007; Kim & Park, 2009; Lee et al., 2009; Nguyen & Anderson, 2005; Umemoto, 2004). These studies have found that acculturation, cultural barriers, and stigma attached to mental health problems are common factors that significantly contribute to Asian American college students’ low mental-health-seeking behaviors. However, based on the authors’ knowledge, these studies have focused on Asian American students who attend 4-year colleges. There is very little known about Asian American students attending 2-year community colleges, who comprise over 40% of Asian American undergraduates enrolled in higher education (Park, 2010).


This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of College Student Development, Copyright © 2015 American College Personnel Association (ACPA), and can be found at this link.
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