Method: This study examines qualitative data derived from semi-structured interviews with a sample of 19 Chinese American young adults between the ages of 18-29 to understand their experiences of during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews lasted around 40-60 minutes and were conducted over Zoom. A team of 6 coders conducted data analysis using thematic analysis to identify dimensions of mental health effects due to the pandemic, racism against Asian Americans, and the impact of racism on mental health. Open coding was used to identify common codes across transcripts and organized into a codebook which was used to code all the transcripts.
Results: Findings revealed that the interviews assessed the toll of the pandemic on mental health, range of racism against Asian Americans, the impact of exposure to racism on mental health, and searching for constructive ways to overcome racism. Participant described ‘during pandemic’ as ‘lock down’ and ‘follow the guideline’. For some, the lock down alone was made them feel lonely and social distancing was aggravating the loneliness further. The moment they need the warmth from people, they had to go through not only contacting reports of racism against Asian American due to ‘Chinese virus’ reference from political leaders but also encountering anti-Asian practice. Social media and various technology were helpful to get connected with friends and family virtually, worry on the possibility of being targeted for anti-Asian racism was prominent. Finally, the desire for open-mindedness and conversation across the member of society was highlighted.
Conclusions and Implication: This study provides understanding of experience of Asian American young adult during COVID-19 pandemic. The interview conducted during COVID-19 outbreak are unique, revealing valuable insights regarding the mental distress of those who are affected by the COVID-19 crisis and systemic racism that are further exposed during COVID-19. Social workers working with Asian American young adults should anticipate the unique situation that Asian American situated during COVID-19 where they put through not only pandemic itself but also the stressful situation that neighbors judging and the possibility of violence prevailed. Additionally, social workers should organize a self-support group for Asian American utilizing this painful or irritating situation to unite and support each other for cherishing the hope that Asian American holds.