Development of Translation Materials to Assess International Students' Mental Health Concerns

Article excerpt

International college students in the United States often face adjustment difficulties; therefore, cultural sensitivity is necessary to help them express their concerns. This article describes the development of translations of international students' common mental health concerns into 7 languages. Suggestions for the use of translated materials with distressed international students are provided.

Los estudiantes internacionales universitarios en los Estados Unidos se enfrentan a menudo con dificultades de ajuste; por Io tanto, la sensibilidad cultural es necesaria para ayudarles a expresar sus preocupaciones. Este articulo describe el desarrollo de traducciones a 7 idiomas de problemas de salud mental comunes. Se ofrecen sugerencias sobre como usar los materiales traducidos con estudiantes internacionales afligidos.


In the last half-century; international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities have been one of the fastest growing groups of students. For example, in the academic year of 2007-2008, the enrollment of international students in U.S. institutions of higher education increased by 7% to a record high of 623, 805 students, despite rising international political tensions and the increased difficulty of obtaining a U.S. visa in recent years (Institute of International Education, 2008).

cross-cultural adjustment concerns of international students

Although all students encounter some stressful circumstances during college, international students face many special challenges as they transition into new academic and social roles (Mori, 2000; Sodowsky & Plake, 1992; Thomas & Althen, 1989). For instance, large geographic distances typically separate them from family members and friends, thereby decreasing accessibility to familiar support networks. Homesickness is a common experience for this

population, because many international students miss loved ones, traditions, holidays, ethnic food, and other comforts of home. Language difficulties are another source of stress for international students, and individuals with underdeveloped language skills report lower levels of academic success and social functioning (Mori, 2000; Pedersen, 1991). Academic distress is particularly problematic for international students because they often arrive in the United States with expectations of maintaining or advancing their status as talented students (Arthur, 2004). International students must also adjust to a U.S. education system that is defined by very different values, beliefs, customs, and traditions. Students who are familiar with different teaching methods and examination schedules are forced to develop new learning strategies and study patterns. The nature of interpersonal relationships in America may confuse international students as well (Pedersen, 1991). The individualism and lack of formality common in America may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable and therefore pose adjustment challenges for international students. Even if international students become acculturated to America, they will ultimately face the daunting task of reentering their home countries with altered self-concepts and worldviews (Arthur, 2004).

There is mounting evidence that international students experience greater stress and more psychological problems than do their U.S. counterparts (Arthur, 2004; G. Bradley, 2000; Mori, 2000; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Tidwell & Hanassab, 2007; Yakushko, Davidson, & Sanford-Martens, 2008). A number of authors have suggested that within the first 6 months of study in a foreign country, international students' stress can reach crisis levels (Aubrey, 1991; Hyun, Quinn, Madon, & Lustig, 2007; Yoon & Portman, 2004). This distress is often associated with the acculturation process (Lee, Koeske, & Sales, 2004; Misra, Crist, & Burant, 2003; Zhang & Dixon, 2003).

When problems arise, foreign students typically approach friends or family first, then professors, and then if help is still required, they seek mental health services (L. …