Asian Family Services (AFS) is a non-profit organization that provides face-to-face, telephone and online counselling services for Asians (including Asian international students) living in New Zealand.
AFS provides counselling services in eight languages, including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Hindi. If you or your family needs emotional or mental help, please call our Asian Helpline 0800862342.
On July 6th, many mainstream media and Chinese social media reported simultaneously a hot topic: A survey showed that Asians living in New Zealand were troubled by high anxiety and depression, as well as racial harassment during COVID-19.
Radio NZ-Survey shows high anxiety and depression among New Zealand Asians.
Otago Daily Times- Survey shows high anxiety and depression among New Zealand Asians.
NZ Herald- Survey shows Asian Kiwis suffered high anxiety, depression and racism during lockdown
SkyKiwi: The Asian community suffered from anxiety, depression and racial discrimination during lockdowna
NZ Chinese Herald: increased cases of racial discrimination against the NZ Chinese during lockdown
Some released data are striking.
During COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand,
57% of Asians felt nervous or anxious
55.2% of Asians had little interest or pleasure in doing things
44% were not able to stop or control worrying
16% of Asians were discriminated against racially during lockdown
All these results were originated from the 2020 New Zealand Asian Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey initiated by Asian Family Services (AFS) and commissioned by Trace Research.
This survey has garnered 580 Asian samples from all over the country; it is the first national Asian mental wellbeing survey of its kind. The results revealed unnoticed truths about the Asians’ mental health.
01 近半亚裔在封城期间出现过情绪波动Nearly half of Asians had distressed during lockdown
43.9% of Asian respondents reported experiencing mental distress since COVID-19 lockdown.
The survey results showed that:
57% of Asians felt nervous, anxious or on edge
55.2% had little interest or pleasure in doing things
47.4% were not able to stop or control worrying
43.9% felt down, depressed or hopeless
Kelly Feng, national director of Asian Family Services, expressed her agreement with the research findings. She said, the results were consistent with the reality, “We have witnessed a spike in our helpline calls for mental health support during lockdown.”
She also pointed out that self-isolation, lack of support, family issues, academic or job pressure, alongside the difficulty of inclusiveness of a new immigrant to the overseas environment, could become a trigger of mental unwellness.
02 60% of Chinese feel nervous or anxious
60.1% of Chinese experienced feeling nervous or anxious, the highest proportion compared to other ethnicities.
However, those who experience it most regularly are reported amongst Indians and Koreans. 10.8% of Koreans felt their anxiety would last half a day or longer; 9% of Indians experienced anxiety almost every day.
03 Those under 50 years are more likely to experience nervousness or anxiety
In terms of age groups, those under 50 years are more likely to experience nervousness or anxiety, in which Asians aged 30 to 49 have the highest proportion of experiencing anxiety.
Those aged 30 to 49 have both the elderly and the young children to look after. It is more likely that they struggle to find balance between work and family.
In front of their family, they have to persist and protect them. Perhaps only when it’s very late in the evening can they quietly ask themselves: Are you still OKay?
04 16.2% of Asians experience racial discrimination
Since COVID-19, 16.2% of Asians reported experiencing racial discrimination.
30% of Koreans have been racially abused, the highest proportion among all Asians, followed by Chinese (22.3%). The Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said the figure was “very concerning”.
Meng said, "I feel gutted and sad that people are receiving discrimination and racism. It doesn't matter what the numbers are. It's really important that we continue to try and implement progress in systems and education to eliminate racism."
"It's good to have an analysis report on mental health and discrimination. I think there's a lot of work to do ahead of us. It's good to know where we can actually target our resources to support mental health."
Dr Andrew Zhu, director of Trace Research that carried out the study, said it was still serious about the survey results.
He said, “On a percentage base, it's relatively small which means we're on the way to achieving racial harmony, however, if you translate this number into a population-based number, that's around 84,000 adult population of Asian ethnicity which could still be counted as serious."
05 Almost half of Chinese experience racial discrimination
Among all Asians who experienced racial discrimination since the COVID-19 outbreak in NZ, Chinese represented nearly half of the cases (47.8%), followed by Indians (17.7%) and Koreans (9.2%).
06 Friends are still the most important means of mental support
When it comes to seeking mental health support, Asians primarily seek help from close friends (44.1%) followed by family members (42.6%), with just over a quarter (28.3 per cent) saying they would see their family doctor, comparing with the national average of 69 per cent according to the Health Promotion Agency.
The overall results are hugely different from the mental health survey carried out by the Health Promotion (HPA) in 2018.
In HPA’s findings, 69% of respondents chose to see a family doctor when they find themselves anxious or stressed. This percentage is twice higher than the equivalent Asian percentage.
This may indicate that the Asians living in New Zealand have a low level of mental health literacy and low recognition of using professional services for mental health issues.
National director of AFS, Kelly Feng commented on this result as “very concerning”.
"That gives me an indication that we really need to promote or even do a campaign about mental wellbeing and addiction issues and raise awareness among Asian communities so people can seek help in the early stage and get a bit of early intervention rather than at the bottom of the cliff," she said.
Data for this study was collected online between 22 May and 3 June, and quota sampling was used to ensure representativeness of all Asian ethnic groups according to the 2018 census of Asian adult population distribution.
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When you recall your life in the past months during COVID,
Have you been anxious, distressed or have emotional swings?
The fluctuation of emotions is normal and ubiquitous.
When you are taking care of your family and fighting for a better life, please choose a time to ask your inner self:
“Hi, are you Ok?”
If you find yourself stressed or in a low mood,
It does no harm to seek help from professionals
Call free on our Asian Helpline
0800 862 342
(Helpline hours: 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday)
You can call the Asian Helpline on 0800 862 342 that provides free, confidential and professional counselling and support services in eight languages: English, Cantonese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Thai and Vietnamese.