Vietnamese American Families’ Perceptions Of Children’s Mental Health: How Culture Impacts Utilization Of Mental Health Services

Open Access
Nguyen, Nancy Hieu
Graduate Program:
Counselor Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 12, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Dr Elizabeth Mellin, Dissertation Advisor
  • Richard Hazler, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Jolynn Carney, Committee Member
  • Vietnamese American
  • Child Counseling
  • Mental Health
  • Culture
More research is needed in the area of counseling children (Thompson, 2007) and specifically with ethnic minority children. Despite the large population and higher prevalence of mental health concerns due to refugee and immigrant status compared to the overall American population, the Vietnamese American population underutilizes mental health services. The current study expands on existing research using a constructivist lens and multiple case study approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four Vietnamese American mothers who had children 12 and under who had or are currently using mental health services. Two primarily were Vietnamese speaking and two were primarily English speaking. Participants shared perceptions of mental health for Vietnamese American children, and described their experiences with mental health services for their children. The findings of this study indicate that Vietnamese beliefs and values, perceptions of problems, perceptions of factors contributing to mental health, approaches to addressing mental health concerns, and experiences of treatment all impacted the participants perceptions of their children’s mental health service use. Implications of the findings will be detailed according to the Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006), combined with an integrative model for Vietnamese Americans (Lam, 2005), and detailed in regards to practice, training, and future research.