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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Breaking the Silence – Speaking out about mental health and its effects on the community

In Health, NEWSPRINT on May 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm

For many, college is a difficult time – moving away from home, making new friends, and struggling to stay on top of academics can be challenges for even the most unfazed individuals. However, for some, college isn’t just difficult – it’s unbearable.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the third highest cause of death among the 15-to-24 age group in America. Recent studies have also shown that API students in particular are at high risk. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that APIs are more likely to commit suicide than the average American.

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WANTED: Asian Bone Marrow Donors

In Health, NEWSPRINT, UCLA Events on November 9, 2009 at 2:43 am

Who has spare time? Heck, go ahead and squeeze this into your schedule: Lambda Phi Epsilon is collaborating with Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches in holding a bone marrow drive. Minorities, especially Asian Americans, are highly encouraged to sign up because of the lack of registrars. Bone marrow matches greatly depend on ethnicity. Thousands of patients diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases rely on these bone marrow transplants. All they need is to swap your saliva with a cotton swab, fill out some paperwork there, and you will be registered under their system.

UCLA alumni Matthew Nguyen was able to find a match when cooperating with Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches last quarter. He is now recovering after the recent transplant.

Now it is Janet Liang’s turn to find her match, who was diagnosed with leukemia this August. She is a fifth-year International Developmental Studies student currently going through chemotherapy that might last only up until May. Her family has been assisting this week’s bone marrow drive in hopes of finding a matching donor soon and to increase possible future donors for other patients.

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Asian American women and body image

In Health on June 1, 2009 at 5:09 pm
Eating disorder

Asian American women face both Asian and American pressure to meet certain beauty ideals.

Last Friday I watched UCLA’s 2009 Chinese American Culture Night.  It brought up a number of themes of relevance to Asian Pacific Islander (API) Americans today, one of which was eating disorders and poor body image.

A 2007 feature article in Audrey magazine goes into depth about the multiple issues that API women struggle with today: the Asian beauty standard of slenderness; the American beauty standard of slenderness and Western facial features; and cultural beliefs and practices that discourage API women from seeking or receiving help.

Below is an excerpt from the article that discusses the cultural factors in API eating disorders.

During her sophomore year of high school, Marilla began a six-month battle with bulimia. Looking back, she says the lack of emotional openness with her parents may have also contributed to her disease. “There aren’t many displays of affection in a lot of Chinese families,” she says. “Having an eating disorder gives you more ground to work with — the chance to have a release that you don’t get from your parents.”

Experts say Marilla’s experience isn’t atypical. “Most Asian Americans feel they have to fill the model minority stereotype,” says Ahn, who points out that many Asian Americans put a premium on academic success. She also notes that some Asian Americans lack the tools to handle intense emotion, because “culturally, there is less emphasis on emotional expression.”

Although Marilla, Aretha and Jin insist that eating disorders are widespread among their Asian American peers, there’s little data to back their assertion. None of the girls are surprised by this, however, and each offers the same reason why the phenomenon goes unnoticed. “It’s just hush, hush — one of those Asian things,” says Aretha. And experts agree that shame plays a role in discouraging Asian American women from discussing their eating disorders. “Asian Americans in general avoid mental health services,” says Yoshikawa. “Going to an outsider can seem like you’re disrespecting the family.”

There may be another reason why the phenomenon goes undetected. A 2002 Florida State University study found that undergraduate survey participants were more likely to diagnose Caucasian women with eating disorders than minorities, even when the minority women exhibited the same symptoms. If the same is true for physicians, the data could have troubling implications for Asian American women, a segment of the population that is often believed to be naturally thin. “There’s an assumption that Asian Americans are happy with their bodies,” says Ahn. “Most people think they’re all petite, so even if someone is underweight because they are restricting food and engaging in other unhealthy behaviors, they might think, ‘oh, that’s just genetic.’”

Although researchers are divided on whether the experiences of Marilla, Aretha and Jin should be seen as individual cases or parts of an overall trend, most agree more studies need to be done. “There’s a lack of research; the field is still developing,” Yoshikawa explains. “And it’s not a field that Asian Americans go into. Culturally, going into psychology is not promoted.”

— posted by Debbie Chong

Asian American young women and suicide

In Health, Monologue/Dialogue on April 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm

According to a 2007 CNN article by Elizabeth Cohen, Asian American (AA) women have the highest suicidal rates for females aged 15-24.

Below are several factors that Cohen discusses.  I added my own commentary when relevant.

1) AA immigrant parents set high academic and career expectations for their children + the “model minority” myth.

When I was little, my grandma and dad would often remind me how hard they worked so that my sisters and I could have an education and well-paying job.  One time I came home with a 99% score on a test.  Instead of saying “good job,” my dad asked, “What happened to the other 1%?”  My classmates also subscribed to the model minority myth, poking fun at me whenever I got less than a perfect score.  As a result, I always felt like I needed to succeed to make my parents happy and to avoid teasing at school.

2) AA parents are stricter with daughters than sons.

Growing up, sometimes I felt my parents were being overprotective.  I know it was because they cared about me, but I often suspect that they would have been more lenient if I were a boy.

3) In Asian cultures, one generally does not question one’s parents.  According to Cohen, this feeling of helplessness turns into depression for girls and rebellious behavior for boys.

When I was little, I assumed that whatever my parents said was to be obeyed.  I usually didn’t talk back, partially because I feared additional lecturing or punishment, and partially because I felt guilty after hearing about how comfortable my life was compared to previous generations.

4) AAs are a visible minority and may be dissatisfied with their physical appearance.

Growing up, I was one of the only Asian faces in my classes.  I hated looking different and used to be insecure about my height and eyes and hair color.

5) AA young women may inherit or mimic suicidal behavior from parents, especially their mothers.

I would like to add another factor:

6) Many AAs face pressure to maintain family honor and status.  This could explain why we may be reluctant to seek counseling or confide with friends about personal issues.  We may fear that others will find out about our dysfunctional families or shameful problems and we will lose credibility and respect in our communities’ eyes for not being “normal.”

Do you agree or disagree with Cohen’s analysis?  What other factors do you think contribute to depression and suicide in young AA women?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

— posted by Debbie Chong

Addicted to the Internet?

In Health on March 10, 2009 at 3:47 am

If you browse the Internet for more than 6 hours a day for three straight months, then congratulations, you have been diagnosed with Internet Addiction, an official disorder as defined China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Don’t worry, though, you can be cured!

As reported in Times Magazine, parents in China are sending their kids to the Internet Addiction Center, a sort of rehab/military boot camp for anybody defined with the disorder. Over 3,000 young adult/adolescents have been sent to the Center for treatment.

When I read the article, I was astonished. Possibly a majority of college students could be classified under the PLA’s definition. With my Internet behavior, I would be sent to the camp in a jippy, especially considering I not only go to college, but work for a Web-based company. With the Internet and computers dominating our lives more and more everyday, who wouldn’t be considered “abnormal” in the PLA’s eye?

And to be subjected to military-styled boot camp sounds a little extreme. It sounds more like the parents are temporarily curing the problem, instead of solving the problem. What are these kids going to do with their lives after coming out of rehab?

–Posted by Evelina Giang

Newsprint: Subgroups of Asian Americans Have Poor Health Coverage

In Health, NEWSPRINT on March 3, 2009 at 1:29 am

Asian Americans are often attributed with positive images of higher education, income and level of employment. Yet, this image is also overshadowed the public’s perception when it comes to health insurance coverage among the Asian American community.

A study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation in January 2007 found that as a whole, Asian Americans have relatively high rates of health coverage, but when separated into different subgroups, the data of health coverage for Asian Americans dropped significantly, with many Asian subgroups having high rates of uninsured individuals.

One reason for this is the decision to group Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, two of the poorest ethnic communities, with all Asians, blinding the public’s awareness of health coverage problems among Asian minorities.

High rates of uninsured health coverage mean that individuals are less prone to seek health care and miss out preventive screenings like cancer. This can be detrimental. According to data from 2003 from the National Cancer of Health statistics, cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans.

The road to improving health care rates is long but attainable. Deeana Jane, policy director of AAPI health forum believes that by bringing more awareness into the community, more people can be helped.

– written by Tommy Chen

Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate

In Health on February 8, 2009 at 6:03 am

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about skin cancer, so I read through an article called “Skin Cancer: Skin Color Doesn’t Matter” by East West Magazine.

While skin cancer cases are more common in fair-skinned people, ultimately the same UV rays hit everyone.  Even Asian Pacific Americans with olive or darker skin tones are at risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

I am going to take my sunscreen more seriously now.

–Posted by Debbie Chong

Being comfortable in our own skin

In Culture, Health on February 7, 2009 at 4:46 am

When I was young, I spent countless summer days playing in my backyard. But the thrill of baking mud pies and burying time capsules faded as soon as I came into the house.  “Look how dark you’ve gotten,” my mom and grandma scolded.

In high school and college, my Caucasian classmates complimented each other on their tans and told me I was lucky that I tanned so easily.

Asian cultures value fair skin, while American culture praises tanned skin.  Where does that leave Asian Americans?

While my complexion may not be fair or tan enough to meet the beauty ideal on either side of the Pacific Ocean, it is good enough for me.

When it comes to issues of the skin, my top concern is health.  One of my biggest regrets from childhood is that I spent all those hours unprotected from UV rays.  Yipes!

So if you see me slathering on sunscreen or taking out my hat, you’ll know it’s at the advisory of the surgeon general, not the beauty industry.

–posted by Debbie Chong

Hepatitis B: do you know your status?

In Health on January 31, 2009 at 9:52 pm

According to the American Liver Foundation, “Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects one out of ten Asian Americans and their families. Among immigrants, the prevalance can be as high as one in seven.”

Sounds scary, huh?  But we college students got the vaccinations in high school, so we don’t have to worry, right?

Maybe not.

One of my Asian American peers was vaccinated for the virus before college but recently found out she has chronic Hepatitis B. How did this happen?

Her mother had passed along the virus to her, and because she did not receive the vaccination until later in life, it was too late.

At checkups I’ve never asked my doctor what she looks for when she takes my blood sample. Has she been checking for Hepatitis B?

Next time I plan to ask.

–posted by Debbie Chong

Hello Kitty for World Dictatorship

In Health, Monologue/Dialogue, NEWSPRINT on December 6, 2008 at 1:35 am

hellokittyhospital1I wonder if Sanrio had a hand in creating this:

A Hello Kitty maternity hospital just opened in Yuanlin, Taiwan. Rooms are decked out in cute kitty goodness – uniforms, cots, blankets, and interior decor are all plastered with the image of the cartoon cat. Director or the hospital, Tsai Tsung-chi, claims that his hospital would ease the pain of childbirth.

This could be the smartest marketing ploy ever. Sanrio may have one-upped cigarette companies by introducing their product AT BIRTH to it’s customer base. Life long attachments (psychological dependency anyone?) to the cartoon character and products may result. Someone should do research on this. READ MORE…