Asian youths face significant mental health challenges, report finds

Stuff 28 June 2021
Young New Zealand Asians face significant mental health challenges, as well as high rates of racism and discrimination, a study has found.

The survey found a third of east Asian students, and a third of east Asian and south Asian girls, experienced significant depressive symptoms.

Meanwhile, one in four Asian students reported unfair treatment by a teacher due to their ethnicity, 10 per cent said they were bullied in school because of their ethnicity or religion, and 5 per cent said they had been treated unfairly by a health professional due to their ethnicity.

The Youth19 survey is the latest in the Youth2000 survey series which asks more than 7000 students about everything from family life to sexual activity.

Nearly 2000 respondents identify as Asian, a category that covers everything from Afghanistan in the west to Japan in the east, and China in the north to Indonesia in the south.

Auckland University associate professor Roshini Peiris-John, who was involved in the survey and research, said the findings are “really alarming”.

Peiris-John said the common perception of Asian youths as successful and resilient had a part to play in the neglect of the mental health needs of this group.

“Those pressures placed on young people are adding to the decline in mental health, she said.

“They talk about how they feel the pressure to uphold that status in society … not having opportunities to talk about their feelings.”

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