Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

John S. Westefeld

Abstract

The number of Chinese international students obtaining their education at American institutions of higher education has reached a pinnacle, in that more Chinese international students attend American colleges and universities than ever before (Institute of International Education, 2015). Colleges and universities actively recruit Asian international students, especially those from the People’s Republic of China. As Chinese international students continue to represent an ever-greater percentage of the student bodies at colleges and universities, these institutions have a responsibility to attend to the mental health needs of this population. Within this population, research suggests that male Asian international students hold less positive attitudes toward seeking help than their female peers (Komiya & Eells, 2001). Since the participants in this study represent an intersection of identities, the extant research from several populations will be reviewed. Specifically, literature examining college students’, college men’s, racial minorities’, and international students’ mental health needs, attitudes towards mental health resources, and help-seeking behaviors will be discussed. The literature review will also build a case for examining male Chinese international students’ mental health needs.

The goal of this study is to provide greater insight into how male Chinese international students perceive mental health resources. The current study utilized Consensual Qualitative Research (Hill, 2012; Hill et al. 2005; Hill et al., 1997) to examine male Chinese international students’ experiences as international students, their adjustment to American culture, their mental health needs, their perceptions of mental health resources, and their help-seeking behaviors. Results indicated that participants struggled with a number of aspects of their experience as international students, specifically the adjustment to a new language, academic challenges, difficulty with isolation, and professional dilemmas. Participants also identified positive aspects of their experiences as international students including but not limited to making friends and academic successes. Participants revealed copious challenges within their adjustment to American culture. The majority of participants reported that they enjoyed the cultural differences, although participants often noted their dislike of American culture and their preference for Chinese culture. Participants also discussed perceived discrepancies in cultural norms between American culture and Chinese culture. The majority of participants in this study had never sought psychological counseling before. The results indicated that participants were aware of a number of barriers to seeking counseling including the lack of need for counseling, the desire to manage their concerns by themselves, the fear of judgment or stigma from seeking help, the perception that counseling is not helpful, and that other resources were preferred. Participants also identified several potential reasons for seeking help including relationship difficulties, academic challenges, and severe mental health needs. The findings of this study also point to several ways in which participants felt masculinity could impact their perceptions of counseling. Although many participants did not feel that masculinity impacted help-seeking behaviors or perceptions of counseling, participants acknowledged that masculine norms like the need to handle problems alone or not wanting to seem weak or emotional could impact their perceptions of counseling. Participants also identified a number of differences between counseling in the United States versus counseling in China. Results indicated that participants viewed counseling as more developed, professional, effective, and trustworthy in the United States. Lastly, participants shared their opinions about mental health concerns. Some participants identified mental health concerns as important, while others felt that they were not important or were perhaps less important than concerns like physical health. The author identifies practical applications for mental health professionals working with international students, aspiring to provide more culturally-sensitive services to male Chinese international students. Limitations of this study and suggestions for future research are provided.

Keywords

Acculturation, Counseling, Help-Seeking Attitudes, International Students, Masculinity

Pages

x, 206 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 197-206).

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Patrick Kenneth Galligan

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