Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Students, Foreign-United States-Attitudes, Chinese-United States-Attitudes, Help-seeking behavior-China, Students, Foreign-Mental health services-United States, Chinese international students, Mental health help-seeking, Qualitative


This qualitative exploratory study examines how Chinese international students in the United States, aging from 18 to 30 years old, 1) perceive mental health help-seeking in China, 2) how they compare Chinese and American cultural views of help-seeking, and 3) how cross-cultural experiences may influence their understanding as well as their behavior related to mental health help-seeking. Twelve Chinese international students in Massachusetts and Rhode Island provided narratives through face-to-face interviews. Generally, there was reluctance among Chinese international students to identify their mental health needs, which was revealed from the examination of language use for mental health in Chinese. As their family narratives consisted of prevalent taboo around mental health needs and avoidance of mental health languages, lay terms and somatic expressions were preferred. Incompetent Chinese school counseling services and ambiguous roles of Chinese school counselors contributed to student's lack of trust and insufficient education with mental health help-seeking. Moreover, Chinese views of help-seeking were identified as turning to family for support and the virtue of enduring suffering, in contrast to self-expressiveness in American culture. As Chinese students came to U. S. for overseas study, their cross-cultural experiences gave rise to the chance for the integration of the concept of mental health, the booming of individuality, and exposures to various normalization of mental health services. Students who have sought help also reported seeing the expression of mental health needs as a strategy. Further social work interventions are needed to develop a stronger and more accessible supporting system for the mental well-being of Chinese international students in the United States.




iv, 63 pages : illustrations. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 49-53)