Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett2
2Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Mental health is one of the leading contemporary concerns about international students. An estimated 25 per cent of international students experience mental health problems. Mobility to unfamiliar environments can engender many health-related issues, particularly mental health. Correspondingly, recent evidence suggests that international student wellbeing is declining and is particularly pronounced in developed countries like Australia. Many factors are believed to contribute to this decline including loneliness, being away from family and friends, missing homecooked food and the often-unfamiliar academic environment international students are exposed to, and a reluctance to seek help when needed. The influences of culturally embedded social values have also been proposed as a possible detractor. Differences in understandings of mental health are considered in terms of collectivistic and individualistic value systems and how Asian international students navigate these frameworks while studying in individualistic environment like Australia. This presentation brings together the findings of two separate studies involving a total of 160 in depth interviews with key stakeholders and Asian international students. The findings will bring clarity to the way in which social values and differing socio-cultural norms influence the mental health of Asian international students.
Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett is Discipline Head of Sociology at Monash University and Deputy Director of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre. Her work focuses on international student wellbeing and mental health, and migration and social inclusion. Helen is internationally known for her work undertaken in Australia, UK, US and China.