Some children and teens show their emotional distress through aggression, hostility, hyperactivity or defiance. Others maintain appropriate behavior. Educators and parents often refer children who act out to mental health services, but the mental health issues of those who behave may go unnoticed and untreated.
Additionally, this disparity between treatment for what childhood psychologists and psychiatrists call "externalizing behaviors" and "internalizing behaviors" deepens between and among ethnic groups.
"Asian-Americans sometimes exhibit more symptoms in terms of internalizing problems," said Joey Fung, an assistant professor of psychology in the department of clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. Minority youth also are less likely than white youth to receive mental health care.
These disparities led Fung to collaborate with Anna Lau, professor of clinical psychology at UCLA, to explore school-based mindfulness intervention in minority youth. Fuller Theological Seminary's Travis Research Institute recently received a research grant for $49,909 from the Spencer Foundation to study the benefits of mindfulness in improving academic and social emotional functioning in minority youths.