Health Promotion among Chinese Americans Melissa McLaughlin
Maryville University: NURS 200-02
As a largely immigrant population, Asian and Chinese Americans face economic and language barriers that prevent them from assessing health care, making them more vulnerable to advanced depression and other mental health disorders. The presence of stress for Chinese Americans relating to acculturation may also be a factor in developing depression. Cultural values regarding health care, disease, and family honor place psychological constraints on Asian Americans from accessing mental health services. Mental health and depression are often stigmatized by families or communities, preventing Asian Americans from seeking care. The health care community must be proactive and culturally sensitive to Chinese and Asian American cultural norms when promoting and providing mental healthcare.
Health Promotion among Chinese Americans An understanding of China’s history as a country, culture, and the immigration of Chinese immigrants to America, is essential to providing positive, non-offensive, comprehensive healthcare to the Chinese American population.
China, officially the “People's Republic of China” (PRC), is a sovereign state located in East Asia. China has the longest combined land border in the world. China borders 14 nations, (more than any other country except Russia, which also borders 14). China extends across much of East Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Burma in Southeast Asia; India, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan in South Asia; Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.” (Wikipedia, China) In addition to its vast borders, China is the world's most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people occupying the land. As the world's population is approximately 6.7 billion, China represents a full 20% of the world's population so one in every five people on the planet is a resident of China. (Wikipedia, China census)
Chinese Americans are the oldest and largest ethnic group of Asian ancestry in the United States. They have endured a long history of migration and settlement that dates back to the late 1840s, including some 60 years of legal exclusion. In the mid-19th century, most Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland as contract labor, working at first in the plantation economy in Hawaii and in the mining industry on the West Coast and later on the transcontinental railroads west of the Rocky Mountains. However, many Chinese immigrants found themselves easy targets of discrimination and exclusion.
Chinese immigration to the Saint Louis area can be traced to the middle of the 19th century when they quickly began to settle in “Hop valley” (Huping Ling, 2004). This was the area bordered by Seventh, Eighth, Market, and Walnut Street and was filled with laundries, dry goods stores, restaurants, etc. In Saint Louis they joined a community that was already ethnically diverse, “with as much as 1/3rd the population being made up of immigrants (St. Louis Census, 2009)”. At this time Saint Louis was a city with a rich mix of German, Irish, Italian, Jewish and African Americans. It can be speculated that this heavy mix allowed the Chinese to fit in to Saint Louis’ immigrant mix with less friction than other areas such as Boston where the Chinese were accused of human trafficking and Tong murders, or the west coast where they were believed to be opium peddlers and white slavers.” (Davis, 2010). According to the US Census from 2000, “.27% of the Saint Louis population is Asian with only a portion of that being Chinese.” (Wikipedia Asian Census 2009). Yet, The Chinese American News claims that there are about 10,000 Chinese Americans in the metro Saint Louis area. “This apparent discrepancy is reconciled by the move of many Chinese Americans to the county and beyond starting in the 1960’s.” (Chinese Culture Education Foundation 2009). Particularly since