‘Model Minority’ Pressure’s Mental Health Toll, and Other News

An Asian student studiesA racist stereotype holds that some so-called “model minorities” are destined to succeed, in contrast to the many minority groups who face oppression that can lead to poor health, higher rates of incarceration, and a pay gap. A BU Today report details the ways in which the pressure to conform to the stereotype of the model minority may undermine mental health.

The story chronicles the tragic tale of Luchang Wang, a Yale University math major who committed suicide. A note Wang left on Facebook suggests she was afraid seeking mental health treatment would cause her to be kicked out of school. Asian-Americans, as well as members of some other model minorities, may feel intense pressure to meet demands posed by their parents, teachers, and a society that believes they are destined to succeed. When reality falls short of expectations, though, the costs can be immense, as Wang’s story demonstrates. 

College Freshmen’s Mental Health Hits New Low

According to a 2014 study of college mental health, about 10% of college freshmen experience depression. The study looked at more than 150,000 college freshmen at 227 schools. When researchers asked students to compare their mental health to that of their peers, they gave themselves a score of 50%—the lowest average the study has ever found.

Kansas Governor Removes Protections for LGBT Employees

Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, announced this week that he had signed an executive order removing anti-discrimination protections for the state’s LGBT employees. The move reversed a 2007 order by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Brownback claims he removed the protections to avoid creating additional “protected classes.”

Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Poor, Ill and Addicted, a Report Says

A new report by the Vera Institute for Justice argues that jails have become warehouses for society’s most oppressed and underprivileged groups. The report details the ways in which court fines keep people in jail for longer periods when they can’t afford to pay, and highlights the fact that the number of people incarcerated on any given day has increased by more than 300% in just 20 years. This increase comes at a time when crime is decreasing, not increasing, suggesting the increase in incarceration is a result of social policies, not an increase in criminal activity.

Pediatricians Pressured to Drop Parents Who Won’t Vaccinate

In spite of a recent measles outbreak, some parents still refuse to vaccinate their children, citing concerns about a discredited link between autism and vaccines, as well as fears about allergic reactions, unknown chemicals, and medical dishonesty. The vaccine fight is increasingly pitting parental autonomy against a pressing public health need. For pediatricians, doctor’s visits are ground zero for this battle. Many pediatricians refuse to see parents who don’t vaccinate, suggesting that their children may endanger other children visiting their offices who are unvaccinated, such as infants who are too young to be immunized. And for pediatricians who do accept unvaccinated patients, there’s growing pressure to turn these families away.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

A panel of 12 sleep experts convened by The National Sleep Foundation has issued new guidelines about proper sleep duration. In many cases, the recommendations narrowed recommended sleep ranges. The new guidelines suggest newborns need 14 to 17 hours, infants need 12 to 15 hours, and toddlers need 11 to 14 hours. Preschoolers do best with 10 to 13 hours, with school-aged children thriving with 9 to 11 hours. Teens need between 8 and 10 hours, with adults up to age 64 requiring 7 to 9 hours. Older adults need between 7 and 8 hours. This last category marks a new age category for sleep recommendations.

Coming Out at School Better for LGBT Youth, Study Finds

According to a study of 245 LGBT adolescents, coming out in high school may improve mental health. Those who reported coming out in high school had higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of depression. The study did not explore the reason for the correlation. It could be that coming out improves mental health. Alternatively, students with good mental health or supportive families may be more likely to come out.

Chris Kyle Trial: Vets Fear Insanity Defense Will Grow PTSD Stigma

Eddie Ray Routh, an Iraq war veteran accused of killing Chris Kyle, the sniper profiled in American Sniper, intends to use an insanity defense at his trial. Routh experiences posttraumatic stress (PTSD), and claims that his condition contributed to the murder of Kyle. Though an insanity defense might help an obviously troubled man avoid prison and get the help he needs, there’s a flip side. By labeling PTSD as a type of “insanity,” millions of people with PTSD could be stigmatized as potential killers.

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  • mina


    February 13th, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    There are so many students who I have met who feel the same pressure that this Yale student faced. Many are afraid and ashamed of what they are feeling, and they really feel like they have no support system to whom they can turn and get help. Very sad that so many young adults are choosing the end their lives because of this.

  • Caroline


    February 13th, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    News of this vein makes me a little wary of sending my child off to college

  • wyatt


    February 14th, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    I understand that parents should be able to make most choices for their kids, but at some point we have to look at what is good for our society as a whole and what that boils down to is that every child, unless there is an extenuating health circumstance, should be vaccinated. If I am a parent I would not want my children going to school with kids who have not been vaccinated and I would not want them going to a doctor who also served these children. I know that this is probably a very unpopular point of view. So be it. I just think that this is what is best for everyone and you have to take your own little petty beliefs out of the picture and look at what is good for EVERYONE!!

  • jake


    February 16th, 2015 at 5:28 AM

    How is it that the inmate population in prisons looks nothing like the overall population in society? Just another one of those things that makes you go hmmmmm

  • Zell


    February 16th, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Any thoughts on why college freshmen are having such a hard time of it now?
    I mean, I look back on college and it was the best time of my life! How is it possible that this is not happening for our kids anymore?

  • Raegan


    February 16th, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Wow I would have thought hat coming out in high school would have been one of the most torturous times to even consider coming out!
    High school kids can be so judgmental and mean. It would take someone with pretty tough skin to work through that one!

  • zack


    February 17th, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    So how many people can we realistically say are getting the amount of sleep that they really need to feel their best?

  • Haylie


    February 18th, 2015 at 2:07 PM

    booooo Kansas!!

  • Shana


    February 21st, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    I would love to know what sort of backlash there has been against the doctors who will only see vaccinated children. I know that the ones who do not immunize are a small minority but they are a pretty vocal one. I just hate to think that someone could lose their practice over something like this!

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