Sad Asian teen girl.

Asian American adolescents are facing unprecedented risks to their mental health. They are living with high levels of anti-Asian hate and violence fueled by references to COVID-19 as “the China virus.” Physical assaults against Asian Americans skyrocketed by 145% in 2020, and 80% of youth report being bullied or verbally harassed.

WCW Senior Research Scientist Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., is involved in a new study that will fill a critical gap in the science of how discrimination affects Asian American adolescent mental health. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Cindy Liu, Ph.D., director of the Developmental Risk and Cultural Resilience Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tiffany Yip, Ph.D., psychology professor at of Fordham University.

Charmaraman and her colleagues will follow 350 Chinese American adolescents, their Chinese heritage parent, and a peer to investigate the effects of discrimination experiences, discrimination responses, and racial socialization processes on adolescent mental health and chronic stress. The long-term objective is to develop evidence on how parents, peers, and social media can be leveraged to mitigate the negative health consequences of discrimination. Charmaraman and her Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab will focus on understanding the racial socialization processes that take place within peer relationships, particularly on social media.

"There are so many overt and covert messages about race and ethnicity that are circulating online and offline, which can significantly affect a racial/ethnic minority adolescent’s sense of self-worth,” said Charmaraman. “This will be the first study of its kind to understand the impact of this discriminatory socialization for an often overlooked population: Asian American youth."

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