The mental health of Asian American students was significantly harmed due to the rise of anti-Asian discrimination fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study.
Pandemic-fueled stressors: The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) found that Asian and Asian American students experienced high levels of stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study collected and compared data from over 6,000 survey responses from Asian and Asian American students in 2019 and 2020.
In 2019, the most significant predictors of suicidality were depression, loneliness and higher alcohol and drug use. Researchers also found variables that protected one’s mental health from these factors, including sleeping well, exercising and spending time with loved ones.
But in 2020, the survey participants reported more pandemic-fueled stressors, including death of a loved one (9%), discrimination (7%) and financial stress (61%), with no significant protective variables.
About the study: Researchers conducted the study in order to understand the experiences of Asian American students, as they reportedly have the greatest unmet mental health need among the racial groups. In a previous study, Asian college students diagnosed with a mental health disorder were found to have received the least medical treatment at only 20%.
Suicide was also the leading cause of death among Asian adolescents from 2016 to 2020. The study findings can help health care providers and universities understand how to better support students’ mental health. According to the NCHA, their findings also suggest the need for “a holistic approach that uses community-wide prevention efforts to reduce discrimination, as well as culturally relevant practices at the individual level.”