Symposium

Of Rising ScholarsFall 2022

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Polygence Scholar2021
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Meghna Kalagara

Rock Hill High SchoolClass of 2023Prosper, Texas

About

Projects

  • "The Influence of Asian Indian Ethnic and Gender Identity on Female Adolescents’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Lockdown" with mentor Tina (Aug. 6, 2022)

Project Portfolio

The Influence of Asian Indian Ethnic and Gender Identity on Female Adolescents’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Lockdown

Started May 4, 2022

Abstract or project description

India consists of 21% of the adolescent population worldwide. The levels of stress in Asian Indian adolescents have been shown to be much more severe than that of any other age group (Rentala et al., 2019). Rentala et al. (2020) states that Asian Indian adolescents face a high burden of academic stress and high expectations to do well. This expectation falls more heavily on adolescent female adolescents than on male adolescents. One reason for this may be the fact that Indian culture is founded on Buddhism and Hinduism values. Values from these religions suppressed women’s social status in terms of career, education, relationships, and societal value (Paul et al., 2020). Traditionally, women were seen as sources of support for the men, who were the only ones allowed to gain higher education and achieve careers. Although Asian Indian female adolescents are now encouraged to receive obtain education, traditional gender values are still upheld in India. This continues to compound the amount of stress and anxiety that female adolescents in India face.
In general, female adolescents have a higher risk for several forms of anxiety. Certain factors and the environment affect girls differently than they do boys (Pickering et al., 2020). Specific factors include the acceptance and support that one receives from peers (Pickering et al., 2020). Pickering et al. (2020) states that female adolescents have a higher risk factor for social anxiety because they are more prone to emotional and mental attachment to their peers and friends as opposed to boys. Kreager et al. (2009) showed that there was a stronger relationship between the lack of peer support and social anxiety with girls as opposed to boys. Furthermore, Guessoum et al. (2020) found that these factors were further compounded for adolescents during the COVID-19 lockdown. In addition, Asian Indian female adolescents are at a higher risk of anxiety disorders due to their cultural environment and stigma of puberty changes (Rentala et al., 2020). Current studies show that the implementation of holistic or otherwise beneficial therapy programs are vital in helping female adolescents cope (Rentala et al., 2020). Although current studies have looked at Indian girls’ anxiety and mental health intervention, they did not study how Asian Indian identity impacts female adolescents’ mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown. Thus, the current paper’s purpose is to explore the influence of Asian Indian female adolescence’s ethnic and gender identities on their mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Asian Indian female adolescents face a lot more pressure from a patriarchal society to appear a certain way. They are pressured into believing certain values that their parents grew up with (Ghadially 2007). For example, Asian Indian female adolescents deal with puberty being deeply stigmatized, with their menstruation being viewed negatively in Indian culture (Goel et al., 2011). Part of this stigma comes from the fact that the men in Indian culture hardly acknowledge menstruation. Goel et al. (2011) stated that Indian culture has a conservative attitude towards menstruation, and women are banned from religious practices or placed on certain diets because of their menstruation. This stigma has caused Indian female adolescents to gain certain anxiety disorders due to their gender, which they cannot change (Goel et al., 2011). Additionally, seeking mental health treatment in India has historically carried a stigma. Mental illness was associated with being possessed by spirits or the supernatural and, therefore, never considered treatable (Kaur et al., 2021). Due to gender discrimination, women’s mental health issues have often been more stigmatized and perceived as less important than men in Indian culture (Rentala et al., 2020). As a result, women’s mental health likely goes untreated and becomes worse without

In summary, this essay discussed adolescent girl’s mental health, specifically in Asian Indian female adolescents. The topics involved show the different cultural and ethnic factors that go into adolescent female adolescents’ distress, as well as the societal impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. Much of the research collected for this essay involved measuring levels of stress and mental health in Asian Indian female adolescents, and how it was further impacted during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, more research needs to be conducted to include intervention measures that help with mental health as well as the extent to which they can help Asian Indian female adolescents.