Asian American Mental Health: Effects of Racism-related Stress and Emotional Regulation


Asian Americans experience anti-Asian American racism (e.g., model minority) which can perform in different types such as subtle and overt. Various types of racism and racism-related stress have a detrimental impact on Asian Americans' mental health (Li, Liang, & Kim, 2004; Miller & Yang, 2011). Additionally, Asian Americans are underrepresented in emotion psychology, especially when they are facing racism. This current study examined the relationship between racism-related stress and mental illness symptoms among 501 Asian Americans, age ranging from 18 to 67. Racism-related stress, anxiety symptoms, and depression symptoms were all significantly and positively correlated. A multivariate regression test revealed that racism-related stress could predict anxiety and depression symptoms but could not predict depression symptoms alone when anxiety symptoms were controlled. This study also explored emotion regulation in different types of racism (subtle and overt) in Asian Americans. Consensual Qualitative Research-Modified (CQR-M; Spangler et al., 2011) was adapted to code the short-answer responses of the participants’ reactions and responses. Codes such as responding to the main character, minimizing the impact, and negative emotions were generated after rigorous coding and discussion. Emotion regulation strategies were then developed which included expression, reserved expression, situational suppression/expression, avoidance, and suppression. Expression was applied the most in both subtle and overt racial situations. Additionally, expression was related to a higher score of anxiety symptoms in subtle racism. The findings provide essential knowledge for Asian American themselves and relevant social workers to assess Asian Americans' mental health outcomes and develop plausible coping skills accordingly.



asian american, mental health, emotion regulation, mixed-method study, racism