Coping Beliefs and Behaviors of Chinese International Students

Chinese students preferred to cope with their stress by enduring the problem (M = 4.37, SD = 1.21), but they also used a wide range of coping strategies. When seeking help from others, they primarily turned to their family (M = 3.85, SD = 1.37) or other Chinese students (M = 3.75, SD = 1.11). Going to church for religious comfort (M = 1.55, SD = 1.03) and consulting a counselor or psychologist for professional help (M = 1.31, SD = 0.62) were the least frequently cited resources. No significant differences were observed across genders, ages, majors, and marital status on preferences of help sources and coping strategies.

In terms of communicating with their family in China, the follow-up interviews indicated that many of the younger students frequently use the internet tools such as instant messaging (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.), Web cameras, and Skype to chat online with their parents and friends. This new style of communication allows for more convenient, cheaper, and more realistic communications. Therefore, it will be easier for the future students, especially for those who are more sophisticated technology users, to keep in touch their families.

Most of respondents did not know how the counseling service works, or they had a hard time telling counselors about their personal problems. Students identified lack of common language and understanding of mental health concepts, as well as fear of stigmatization, as limiting their expression of their psychological needs and stress.

Findings suggest counseling services need to reach out to provide more counseling opportunities for Chinese students. Counselors should try to become more aware of the culture background of Chinese students in order to help the students understand the type of counseling services offered, why they are offered, and how these services could interface with the Chinese students’ needs and problems. More discussion will be addressed in the next section.

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