Vietnamese-Americans Have High Risk for Mental Health Problems, Study Finds
Vietnamese-Americans ages 56 and older are twice as likely as whites to report needing mental health care and also less likely to discuss such issues with a professional, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Many Vietnamese-Americans experience mental health issues related to the Vietnam war and leaving the country in 1975, Quyen Ngo-Metzger, a University of California-Irvine Center for Health Care Policy researcher and lead author of the study, said. "They already had prewar trauma, and they come to the U.S., and it's a new country, a new language, and they have to find jobs," Ngo-Metzger added. "What we are finding is that 30 years after the war, there are still people having problems," she said.
The study is based on a sample of data from the 2001 and 2003 California Health Interview Surveys, which included 359 Vietnamese-Americans and 25,177 whites in California. Researchers found that 21% of Vietnamese-Americans reported having depression or anxiety, compared with 10% of whites. Twenty percent of Vietnamese-Americans discussed the health issues with a medical provider, compared with 45% of whites.
Trang Huynh -- a mental health program manager at the Garden Grove, Calif.-based Nhan Hoa Comprehensive Health Care Clinic, which treats underserved Vietnamese-Americans -- said the group is reluctant to seek care for mental health problems because it is considered taboo and is not openly discussed. Ngo-Metzger recommended that older Vietnamese-Americans be screened for mental health issues. She added, "The message I want to bring across is that the medical community needs to realize that Vietnamese-Americans are a high-risk group" (Tran, Los Angeles Times, 9/5).
An abstract of the study is available online.