Help Seeking Behavior in a Diverse Sample of Asian American Adults

Abstract views: 1884 / PDF downloads: 663


  • Peter Nguyen School of Social Work, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC
  • Rosalie Corona Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Matthew Peter DeCarlo
  • Anna Yaros RTI International, Durham, NC
  • Anh Thuy Le Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Psychology
  • Kimberly Compton Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Social Work



help-seeking, Asian American


We sought to characterize the help-seeking behavior of Asian Americans living in a Southeastern community in the U.S. by examining different types of services sought, help-seeking preferences, and how demographic characteristics and mental health problems (including domestic violence) predicted these behaviors. 610 Asian Americans (mean age = 39.43 years; 59.6% female; 75% immigrants) completed an anonymous, community survey that included measures of different types of help-seeking behaviors and preferences, mental health symptoms, and exposure to domestic violence. The two most-frequently help-seeking behaviors included seeking advice from friends, family members, or relatives (66.7%), and visiting a medical doctor (46.4%).  In logistic regression models, older age, sex, immigrant status and symptomatic depression predicted different types of help-seeking behaviors and preferences. Neither domestic violence experience or symptomatic anxiety significantly predicted help-seeking.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Rosalie Corona, Virginia Commonwealth University

Director of Clinical Training
Director Latina/o Mental Health Clinic


Abe-Kim, J., Takeuchi, D. T., Hong, S., Zane, N., Sue, S., Spencer, M. S., . . . Alegrı´a, M.(2007). Use of mental health-related services among immigrant and US-born Asian Americans: Results from the National Latino and Asian American Study. American Journal of Public Health, 97, 91–98. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2006.098541 DOI:

Abe-Kim, J., Takeuchi, D., & Hwang, W. (2002). Predictors of help seeking for emotional distress among Chinese Americans: Family matters. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(5), 1186-1190. doi: 10.1037//0022-006X.70.5.1186 DOI:

Abdullah, T., & Brown, T. L. (2011). Mental illness stigma and ethnocultural beliefs, values, and norms: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 934-948. DOI:

Appel, H. B., Huang, B., Ai, A. L., & Lin, C. J. (2011). Physical, behavioral, and mental health issues in Asian American women: Results from the National Latino Asian American Study. Journal of Women’s Health, 20(11), 1703-1711. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2726 DOI:

Atkinson, D. R., & Gim, R. H. (1989). Asian-American cultural identity and attitudes toward mental health services. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36(2), 209-212. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.36.2.209 DOI:

Augsberger, A., Yeung, A., Dougher, M., & Hahm, H. C. (2015). Factors influencing the underutilization of mental health services among Asian American women with a history of depression and suicide. BMC health services research, 15(1), 542. DOI:

Barnett, M. L., Lau, A. S., & Miranda, J. (2018). Lay health worker involvement in evidence-based treatment delivery: A conceptual model to address disparities in care. Annual review of clinical psychology, 14, 185-208. 084825 DOI:

Bauer, A. M., Chen, C.-N., & Alegría, M. (2012). Associations of physical symptoms with perceived need for and use of mental health services among Latino and Asian Americans. Social Science & Medicine, 75(6), 1128–1133. doi:10.1016/j. socscimed.2012.05.004. DOI:

Bridges, A. J., Andrews III, A. R., Villalobos, B. T., Pastrana, F. A., Cavell, T. A., & Gomez, D. (2014). Does integrated behavioral health care reduce mental health disparities for Latinos? Initial findings. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 2(1), 37-53. DOI:

Chang, J., Natsuaki, M. N., & Chen, C. (2013). The importance of family factors and generation status: Mental health service use among Latino and Asian Americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(3), 236-247. doi: 10.1037/a0032901 DOI:

Cheng, H. L., Wang, C., McDermott, R. C., Kridel, M., & Rislin, J. L. (2018). Self‐stigma, mental health literacy, and attitudes toward seeking psychological help. Journal of Counseling & Development, 96(1), 64-74. DOI:

Chong, S. A., Abdin, E., Vaingankar, J. A., Kwok, K. W., & Subramaniam, M. (2012). Where do people with mental disorders in Singapore go to for help? Annals Academy of Medicine, 41(4), 154-160.

Cifti, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1), 17-32. doi: 10.3998/jmmh.10381607.0007.102 DOI:

Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., ... & Thornicroft, G. (2015). What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological medicine, 45(1), 11-27. DOI:

El-Khoury, M. Y., Dutton, M. A., Goodman, L. A., Engel, L., Belamaric, R. J., & Murphy, M. (2004). Ethnic differences in battered women’s formal help-seeking strategies: A focus on health, mental health, and spirituality. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 10(4), 383-393. doi: 10.1037/1099-9809.10.4.383 DOI:

Hamby, S., Sugarman, D. B., & Boney-McCoy, S. (2006) ‘Does Questionnaire Format Impact Reported Partner Violence Rates? An Experimental Study’, Violence and Victims 21(4):507–18. DOI:

Han, M., & Pong, H. (2015). Mental health help-seeking behaviors among Asian American community college students: The effect of stigma, cultural barriers, and acculturation. Journal of College Student Development, 56(1), 1-14. doi:10.1353/csd.2015.0001 DOI:

Henderson, C., Evans-Lacko, S., & Thornicroft, G. (2013). Mental illness stigma, help seeking, and public health programs. American Journal of Public Health, 103(5), 777-780. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301056 DOI:

Hoeft, T. J., Fortney, J. C., Patel, V., & Unützer, J. (2018). Task‐sharing approaches to improve mental health care in rural and other low‐resource settings: a systematic review. The Journal of rural health, 34(1), 48-62. DOI:

Hunt, J. B., Eisenberg, D., Lu, L., & Gathright, M. (2015). Racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care utilization among US college students: applying the Institution of Medicine definition of health care disparities. Academic Psychiatry, 39(5), 520-526. DOI:

Hyman, I., Forte, T., Du Mont, J., Romans, S., & Cohen, M. M. (2009). Help-seeking behavior for intimate partner violence among racial minority women in Canada. Women’s Health Issues, 19, 101-108. doi:10.1016/j.whi.2008.10.002 DOI:

Jimenez, D. E., Cook, B., Bartels, S. J., & Alegria, M. (2013). Disparities in mental health service use of racial and ethnic minority elderly adults. Journal of American Geriatrics, 61(1), 18-25. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12063 DOI:

Kam, B., Mendoza, H., & Masuda, A. (2018). Mental health help-seeking experience and attitudes in Latina/o American, Asian American, Black American, and White American college students. Advance online: International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 1-17. DOI:

Kayaalp, A . (2016). The Impact of “Temporal Personality” on Individuals’ Organizational Citizenship Behaviors. Journal of Management and Information Science, 4 (2), 79-86. DOI:

Kenna, J., & Russell III, W. (2018). The Culture and History of Standards-Based Educational Reform and Social Studies in America. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 1(1), 26-49. Retrieved from DOI:

Kenna, J. L., & Poole, C. M. (2017). Social science pre-service teachers’ preparation to teach about asia: A research study. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 8(1), 93-114.

Kim, B. S. K., & Omizo, M. M. (2003). Asian cultural values, attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, and willingness to see a counselor. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(3), 343-361. doi: 10.1177/0011000003252268 DOI:

Kim, J. E., & Zane, N. (2016). Help-seeking intentions among Asian American and White American students in psychological distress: Application of the health belief model. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 22(3), 311-321. DOI:

Kratt, D. (2018). Teachers’ perspectives on educator mental health competencies: A qualitative case study. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 2(1), 22-40. DOI:

Krishnan, S. P., Hilbert, J. C., & VanLeeuwen, D. (2001). Domestic violence and help-seeking behaviors among rural women: Results from a shelter-based study. Family Community Health, 24(1), 28-38. doi:10.1097/00003727-200104000-00006 DOI:

Lanoye, A., Stewart, K. E., Rybarczyk, B. D., Auerbach, S. M., Sadock, E., Aggarwal, A., ... & Austin, K. (2017). The impact of integrated psychological services in a safety net primary care clinic on medical utilization. Journal of clinical psychology, 73(6), 681-692. DOI:

Lee, S., Juon, H. S., Martinez, G., Hsu, C. E., Robinson, E. S., Bawa, J., & Ma, G. X. (2009). Model minority at risk: Expressed needs of mental health by Asian American young adults. Journal of community health, 34(2), 144-152. DOI:

Leong, F. T. L., & Lau, A. S. L. (2001). Barriers to providing effective mental health services to Asian Americans. Mental Health Services Research, 3(4), 201-214. doi:10.1023/A:1013177014788 DOI:

Le Meyer, O., Zane, N., Cho, Y., & Takeuchi, D. T. (2009). Use of specialty mental health services by Asian Americans with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77, 1000–1005. doi:10.1037/a0017065 DOI:

Leung, P., Cheung, M., & Tsui, V. (2012, 01). Help-Seeking Behaviors among Chinese Americans with Depressive Symptoms. Social Work, 57(1), 61-71. doi:10.1093/sw/swr009 DOI:

Logan, S., Steel, Z., & Hunt, C. (2017). Ethnic status and engagement with health services: Attitudes toward help-seeking and intercultural willingness to interact among South East Asian students in Australia. Transcultural psychiatry, 54(2), 192-210. doi: 10.1177/1363461517696437j DOI:

Lu, S. H., Dear, B. F., Johnston, L., Wootton, B. M., & Titov, N. (2014). An internet survey of emotional health, treatment seeking and barriers to accessing mental health treatment among Chinese-speaking international students in Australia. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 27(1), 96-108. DOI:

Luu, T. D., Leung, P., & Nash, S. G. (2009). Help-seeking attitudes among Vietnamese Americans: The impact of acculturation, cultural barriers, and spiritual beliefs. Social Work in Mental Health, 7, 476–493. doi:10.1080/15332980802467456 DOI:

Mirza, S. (2018). Impact of Mentoring on At-Risk Youth. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 3(1), 36-53. Retrieved from DOI:

Mutamba, B. B., van Ginneken, N., Paintain, L. S., Wandiembe, S., & Schellenberg, D. (2013). Roles and effectiveness of lay community health workers in the prevention of mental, neurological and substance use disorders in low and middle income countries: a systematic review. BMC health services research, 13(1), 412. DOI:

Nam, S. K., Chu, H. J., Lee, M. K., Lee, J. H., Kim, N., & Lee, S. M. (2010). A meta-analysis of gender differences in attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Journal of American College Health, 59(2), 110-116. doi:10.1080/07448481.2010.483714 DOI:

Nguyen, P., Leung, P., & Cheung, M. (2011). Bridging help-seeking options to Vietnamese Americans with parent-child conflict and depressive symptoms. Child & Youth Services Review, 33(2011), 1842-1846. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.05.009 DOI:

Park, S. Y., Cho, S., Park, Y., Bernstein, K. S., & Shin, J. K. (2013). Factors associated with mental health service utilization among Korean American immigrants. Community mental health journal, 49(6), 765-773. DOI:

Roh, S., Burnette, C. E., Lee, K. H., Lee, Y. S., Martin, J. I., & Lawler, M. J. (2017). Predicting help-seeking attitudes toward mental health services among American Indian older adults: Is Andersen’s behavioral model a good fit? Journal of Applied Gerontology, 36(1), 94-115. DOI:

Sadock, E., Perrin, P. B., Grinnell, R. M., Rybarczyk, B., & Auerbach, S. M. (2017). Initial and follow‐up evaluations of integrated psychological services for anxiety and depression in a safety net primary care clinic. Journal of clinical psychology, 73(10), 1462-1481. DOI:

Sandanger, I., Moum, T., Ingebrigtsen, G., Dalgard, O. S., Sørensen, T., & Bruusgaard, D. (1998). Concordance between symptom screening and diagnostic procedure: The Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 33(7), 345-354. doi:10.1007/s001270050064 DOI:

Shea, M., & Yeh, C. J. (2008). Asian American students’ cultural values, stigma, and relational self-construal: Correlates of attitudes toward professional help seeking. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 30(2), 157-172. doi:10.17744/mehc.30.2.g662g5l2r1352198 DOI:

Spencer, M. S., Chen, J., Gee, G., Fabian, C. G., & Takeuchi, D. T. (2010). Discrimination and mental health – Related service use in a national study of Asian Americans. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2410-2417. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.176321 DOI:

Straus, M. A. (1979). Measuring intramarital conflict and violence: The Conflict Tactics Scale. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41(7), 5-8. DOI:

Sue, S., Cheng, J. K. Y., Saad, C. S., & Chu, J. P. (2012). Asian American mental health. American Psychologist, 67(7), 532-544. doi: 10.1037/a0028900 DOI:

Tata, S. P., & Leong, F. T. L. (1994). Individualism-collectivism, social-network orientation, and acculturation as predictors of attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help among Chinese Americans. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41(3), 280-287. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.41.3.280 DOI:

Wang, T. (2015). Marginality of rural migrant students in eleven Chinese high schools. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 2(2), 21-32. DOI:

Wu, I. H., Bathje, G. J., Kalibatseva, Z., Sung, D., Leong, F. T., & Collins-Eaglin, J. (2017). Stigma, mental health, and counseling service use: A person-centered approach to mental health stigma profiles. Psychological services, 14(4), 490-501. DOI:

Yigit, I. H., & Tatch, A. (2017). Syrian refugees and Americans: Perceptions, attitudes and insights. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 1(1), 13-31. DOI:

Ying, Y. W., & Miller, L. S. (1992). Help-seeking behavior and attitude of Chinese Americans regarding psychological problems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20(4), 549-556. doi: 10.1007/BF00937758 DOI:




How to Cite

Nguyen, P., Corona, R., DeCarlo, M. P., Yaros, A., Le, A. T., & Compton, K. (2018). Help Seeking Behavior in a Diverse Sample of Asian American Adults. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 5(2), 1–15.



Original Manuscript
Received 2018-09-08
Accepted 2018-11-11
Published 2018-12-09