Migration, sociocultural factors, and local cultural worlds among Fuzhounese Chinese immigrants: Implications for mental health interventions

Grace Ying-Chi Lai, Graciete Lo, Hong Ngo, Yuwen Chou, Lawrence Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The last two decades have seen a rapid increase of Fuzhounese immigrants (from Fujian Province, China) to the USA. This group spurred the interest of researchers because of their new immigrant status and their demographic and sociocultural background that places them at a significant disadvantage compared with the majority of already established Chinese immigrants. This paper synthesizes existing research on the Fuzhounese's historical/cultural and migration experiences and examines ways in which sociocultural forces interact with postmigration stressors to impact the onset, manifestation, diagnosis, and treatment of symptoms in this group. From prior ethnographic work, we suggest that the pursuit of four core social goals plays a key role in interfering with psychiatric treatment adherence: (1) To payoff their smuggling debt (often >$80,000); (2) To send money to their natal families to improve social standing; (3) To save money for a dowry to perpetuate the familial lineage by marrying and producing offspring; and (4) To attain legal status. To offer more insight on how these core social motivations impact psychiatric disability, we present a case vignette of a Fuzhounese man diagnosed with schizophrenia. We relate his treatment issues to specific fundamental values that infuse both the lived experience of mental illness and inform clinical and community treatment strategies for this group. We also extend relevant treatment recommendations to migratory workers from other ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Asian American
  • Chinese
  • culture
  • immigration
  • mental health
  • psychiatric treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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