Depressed Asian-American Youth Groupers?
November 21, 2008, 5:58 am
Filed under: church, family, gospel, ministry


As we are praying for God’s guidance with respect to a youth ministry at Immanuel in the near future, I thought I’d share an interesting article that I read recently entitled Participating In Religion May Make Adolescents From Certain Races More Depressed that spoke of a study that concluded the following :

While the study found that white and African American adolescents generally had fewer symptoms of depression at high levels of religious participation, for some Latino and Asian American adolescents, attending church more often was actually affecting their mood in a negative way.

Asian American adolescents who reported high levels of participation in their church had the highest number of depressive symptoms among teens of their race. Females of all races and ethnic groups were also more likely to have symptoms of depression than males overall. 

Among adolescents who never attended church, Asian American adolescents reported 4 percent fewer symptoms of depression in the preceding week than did their African-American peers.

In comparison, Asian American youth who attended church at least once a week reported 20 to 27 percent more symptoms of depression than their white and African-American peers who attended at the same level.

To a certain degree, I’m not incredibly surprised by these reports.  I’ve known of some youth ministry practices that, because of cultural influences, were bordering on abuse.  Furthermore, I’m all too familiar with the performance-based mentality that can develop in children whose parents desire them to excel.  Also, I have not been able to witness first-hand a youth ministry that had successfully incorporated a genuine partnership with parents.  All this to say that we’ll really need to seek God for His wisdom in forming a youth ministry at Immanuel so that the Gospel, and not culture, informs and defines every aspect of the ministry, and so that we give Christ, and not just our flavor of church culture, to the next generation.


2 Comments so far
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I just read the article and I think the difference is that Asian and Latino American students who are involved in churches / youth groups that are very culturally dominate come from very different cultural and social norms that white and even African American students do. From language, food, parental immigration status–culutural norms and values differ so much that when you are always around one group of people that are ‘just like you’ with not a lot of experience with a diverse group, you don’t know how to reconcile the differences in your own mind and heart. So when you go to school with kids who are so different from everyone else you are more used to associating with, your ‘differences’ are that much more obvious to you; its not just the food and language that are different but the atmosphere for friends, the way people joke, what’s cool and not cool–they are all so different because they are based in a culture that is not ‘American mainstream’. Maybe it’s not the religous-ness of it all, but maybe the feeling of being an outsider because of the lack of diversity and culture that make these kids feel depressed? Just a thought….

Comment by Jane Lee

Hey Jane…How far back are you reading the blog? 🙂
I think you bring up a good perspective. The series of blogs/links that led me to the original article were more on the critical side with respect to Asian-American church culture, so I initially read it through that lens.

Comment by regani

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