Addressing Asian American Mental Health Disparities: Putting Community-Based Research Principles to Work

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This article provides a brief summary of existing literature on mental health disparities for Asian Americans. Emerging evidence suggests that in the aggregate, Asian Americans appear to have lower lifetime and 12-month prevalence rate for psychiatric disorders than other racial/ethnic groups, as judged by the Western psychiatric criteria. However, disparities continue to exist for segments of Asian American populations with respect to rates of mental illness, as well as access to care and treatment. We review a number of cultural and structural factors that sustain disparities and identify questions that remain unresolved with respect to the continuing disparities. Finally, drawing from public health and health disparities research, we discuss the community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach as a promising avenue for addressing the remaining questions in mental health disparities research. Specifically, we argue that CBPR approaches are well suited to address the nature of distress and help-seeking process within particular communal and ethnocultural contexts and to promote dialogue between Asian American community members, researchers, and practitioners.

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