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Unsettled Belongings: Chinese Immigrants' Mental Health Vulnerability as a Symptom of International Politics in the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Author: Gao, Zhipeng
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unique mental health challenges for Chinese immigrants due to their cultural, social, and political ties with China, which responded to COVID-19 with controversial measures amid tensions with the Western world. These challenges manifest in three conditions at a time of crisis: racism that associates overseas Chinese with the coronavirus, Chinese immigrants' "double unbelonging" with regard to both host societies and China, and social disapproval of political criticism among overseas Chinese. This article examines these three conditions by drawing on ethnography conducted in Canada as well as international online media. It uses theories in humanistic psychology, existential psychology, and hermeneutics to explain how, for Chinese immigrants, international political tensions are implicated in a range of mental health–related phenomena including identity, belonging, self-consciousness, shame, depression, and agency. Meanwhile, it offers theoretical discussions of how to make humanistic psychology more capable of addressing social and political issues.
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