The initial phase of the COVID 19 pandemic, for Filipino-American students, was extremely stressful. It even affected their mental health. According to Catacutan, a Filipino-American sophomore in Wisconsin-Madison, the stress was too much to bear. Concerns about the well-being of her family combined with social isolation to crush her mental health. The increasing hatred against Asians added up to it. And she began feeling that stress is about to crush her. It even affected her day-to-day life.
COVID 19 Pandemic Affected Filipino-American Students’ Mental Health
Catacutan is just one among the hundreds of Filipino-Americans who had to suffer mental health issues during the pandemic. More than 46% of Asian Americans are reported to have struggled a lot during the pandemic. Some of them even suffered from anxiety and depression. Another survey points out that the adverse effect of the pandemic may be higher than what is being projected. This holds true specifically for Filipino-Americans, analysts say. According to another survey, the percentage of people who suffered during the pandemic was 81%. Most of them suffered from the symptoms of depression, it said.
Several factors came into play when it comes to their mental health. They had to maintain a balance between their family and work. The extra burden of online learning took a toll on their lives.
Reputed psychiatrists report almost all their clients were anxious about their families. They were always worried about their family members working as healthcare professionals in the COVID 19 units of American hospitals. They feared that their family members working as frontline staff for hospitals may get infected with COVID 19. This was true specifically for Catacutan. Her parents were healthcare professionals working in COVID 19 units of renowned hospitals.
Filipinos comprise a large portion of healthcare workers in the US. Up to 4% of the nurses registered across the country are Filipinos. Up to 32% of the healthcare workers who died due to COVID 19 belonged to this group.
Catacutan, concerned about the safety of her parents, left her part-time job and began taking care of her family. ? Another reason why she quit her job was the increasing hatred towards Asian-Americans. Hatred towards Asians is not a new incident in the US. Till 1965, the country prevented Asians from entering there.
Catacutan also blames the political mechanism for the increase in attacks targeting Asian-Americans. The usages like the China virus fanned the flames of such emotions.
Catacutan even reports people refusing to touch her. They thought that she was a spreader of the Coronavirus. This wounded her deeply and she decided to quit. Even the industry too was quite slow at the time. At one point, she even feared for her own life.
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Citation, a psychiatrist who works mostly with Filipino-Americans said that her clients showed signs of anxiety and depression after going home. They had to see the generational gap between the immigrants. People had differing views about racism. Some even made unwarranted comments about their appearance.
The pandemic creates a situation where students come under the direct supervision of their parents. This puts on them the extra pressure of performing well in their studies. This, according to experts, happens because of the gratitude culture. Students have to reward their parents with excellent performance in their studies. They always have to keep in mind the sacrifices their parents made to take them to the US.
Catacutan said that this was one of the reasons for her increased stress. As an immigrant, her parents expected her to give it back to them. At times, they felt that was the way it should be. But the truth was just the opposite.
They also lacked the ability to socialize. That, according to psychiatrists, would have offered them solace from their struggles.
Fortunately, there are numerous organizations working in the field. Students need to be aware of the social channels available for them.