This Psychology student is investigating Asian-Canadians’ use of mental health services
By Nicole Chiu, Research and Innovation Office
Rico Misajon is examining whether there is a link between Asian-Canadians’ cultural backgrounds and their perceptions of mental health, including how they view seeking mental health services.
Rico’s study is called Accessing Mental Health Services: Asian-Canadians and their experiences. The Applied Psychology Honours student wants his research to help College administrators create more culturally centered and accessible resources for Asian students and employees.
“The first step to greater accessibility is discovering how the Asian population conceptualizes mental health and their attitudes towards it. That’s how we understand it at the individual level. Then we can look more at the structural barriers to resources that respondents may be facing,” says Rico.
Speaking from personal experience
Rico’s family didn’t talk much about mental health.
“There is a narrative that Filipino people are always happy, no matter the obstacles, and my parents lived by that. So they thought counselling and mental health resources were unnecessary, and they never viewed them as an option,” Rico says. “You just worked things out yourself, with your strength and resilience.”
“This made me think about the nuanced experiences of Asian-Canadians, and specifically, how we navigate emotions and seek help.”
After starting his studies in psychology, Rico began to think about his experiences growing up Asian. Soon he took an interest in the mental health attitudes of other members of Douglas College’s Asian community.
Earlier this year, Rico surveyed Douglas employees and students who identify as East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian or bicultural/mixed.
This survey included questions about a participant’s personal cultural beliefs and their experiences with using mental health resources.
“I wanted to start a conversation around mental health, especially for those who might not necessarily believe in seeking help due to their upbringing,” Rico says.
Rico’s hypothesis suggests that Asian-Canadians born in Asia who hold traditional Asian values have an unfavorable attitude toward mental health services. On the other hand, it proposes that Asian-Canadians born in B.C. and who adopt Western values view it more positively.
So if Rico proves his hypothesis, the findings could help Douglas College tailor mental health services for Asian students and employees.
“Ultimately, I want to make mental health a bigger concept in the Asian-Canadian community. And I want to somehow cater the College’s services to better support that community on campus.”
The study will be finalized and published later this year. It will be available after that on the Douglas Open Repository (DOOR).
Want to learn more about student research opportunities? Visit the Research at the College page on the Douglas College website.