Abstract: Impact of Anti-Asian Racism on Mental Health during COVID19 Pandemic Among Asian American Young Adult (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Impact of Anti-Asian Racism on Mental Health during COVID19 Pandemic Among Asian American Young Adult

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Eunseok Jeong, Doctoral student, University of Chicago, Chicago
Miwa Yasui, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background and purpose: As COVID-19 sweeps the nation, anti-Asian sentiment becomes apparent. A recent analysis of Twitter and online message boards revealed a surge in the use of Sinophobic slurs beginning in the late January 2020 and the hate crime report showed increase in hate crimes and discrimination. While many studies on mental health during COVID19 pandemic focuses on trauma due to loss of family member, anxiety, and depression due to lockdown, the compounding effects of racism that Asian Americans are rarely highlighted. Addressing the effects of racial injustice on the mental health during a global pandemic is a critical step towards advancing approaches to treating mental health problems among Asian American young adults.

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.