Discussion and Results Chapter: Social Support and Depression

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[. . .] Defining and Evaluating Mental Health and Mental Health Services

According to researchers Jang, Chariboga and Okazaki, authors of "Attitudes toward mental health services: Age-group differences in Korean-American adults," Asian-Americans -- and Korean-American Adults in particular -- do not typically identify depression as a medical condition, but rather as a state of mind that can be avoided or changed by thinking positively. For this reason, the vast majority of Korean-Americans are inclined to think negatively about people who seek mental health services for depression, as the overwhelming opinion -- particular among Korean-Americans over the age of 60 -- is that depression is the result of mental or emotional weakness and a lack of willpower (Jang et al., 2009).

Furthermore, Jang et al. found a direct correlation between the responsiveness or openness to seeking social support for depression and the evaluation of mental health as a medical condition. Specifically, Korean-Americans who viewed depression as a medical condition -- typically younger adults between the ages of 20 and 45 -- were more likely to seek social support for the purpose of treating depression. Conversely, Korean-Americans who did not view depression of a medical condition were not likely to seek the support of mental health services for depression, and tended to think negatively of persons who did (Jang et al., 2009).

Barriers to Providing Mental Health Services for Asian-Americans

That many Asian-Americans do not consider depression a medical condition is one of several barriers to providing effective mental health treatment for depression among Asian-Americans. Even Asian-Americans who seek social support for depression typically terminate treatment prematurely for a number of reasons (Leong & Lau, 2001). According to the findings of several tests conducted by Leong & Lau, these reasons include, but are not limited to:

A lack of multi-cultural resources, such as bilingual staff and mental health professionals.

The concept of mind-body holism, resulting in Asian-Americans seeking mental health treatment from general practitioners or physical medical specialists, as opposed to licensed therapists.

An underlying belief that depression is a matter of willpower.

Culturally constructed social stigmas regarding the mental health profession as a whole.

The discovery that Westernized methods of mental health treatment are ineffective for many Asian-Americans.

Leong & Lau's research findings suggest it is the discovery that treatment is ineffective that most often results in premature termination of treatment (Leong & Lau, 2001). The reason for this is that Westernized methods of mental health service are largely explicit in nature, with a marked emphasis on personal disclosure, which has been shown to exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety in Asian-Americans (Kim et al., 2008). In order to effectively treat depression in Asian-Americans as a group, therefore, Leong & Lau suggest an implicit approach to treatment with highly limited disclosure requirements.

Perceived Social Support and Depression Recovery

According to researchers Nasser, Overholser and Barbour, the likeliness of recovery from depression is directly related to the perception of social support (Nasser & Overholser, 2004; Barbour, 1994). In a study conducted by Nasser and Overholser involving 62 in-patients diagnosed with depression, patients were asked to describe their perceived social support systems upon intake, after which they were treated for a period of three months and then evaluated for progress/recovery. The consistent findings of this study indicated that people with elevated perceptions of social support are more likely to recover from depression than those with lower perceptions of support. Furthermore, in a study conducted by Alton Barbour, impaired or "dysfunctional" communication was shown to impede the attainment of social support (Barbour, 1994). Barbour's findings are conducive with Leong & Lau's findings that a lack of multi-cultural resources, in addition to ineffective treatment methods relying on disclosure -- a form of communication many Asian-Americans are not comfortable with -- directly informs the reluctance to seek social support for depression and often results in premature termination of treatment. Once again, in order to effectively treat depression in Asian-Americans, implicit methods of treatment must take precedence of explicit methods (Leong & Lau, 2001).

References

Barbour, A. (1994). Social Support & Depression.

Jang, Y., Chiriboga, D.A. & Okazaki, S. (2009). Attitudes toward mental health services: Age-group differences in Korean-American adults. Aging & Mental Health, 13, 127 -- 134.

Kim, H.S., Sherman, D.K., & Taylor, S.E. (2008). Culture and Social Support. American Psychologist, 63 (6), 518-126.

Leong, T.L. & Lau, A.S.L. (2001). Barriers to Providing Effective Mental Health Services to Asian-Americans. Mental Health Services Research, 3 (4), 202-214.

Nasser, E.H. &… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Social Support and Depression.  (2011, February 4).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/social-support-depression-among/5412386

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"Social Support and Depression."  Essaytown.com.  February 4, 2011.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/social-support-depression-among/5412386.