This research examines the underlying issues about mental illness, particularly depression within the Hmong community. Previous scholars have focused on the Hmong culture’s origins, mental health status of Hmong refugees arriving in the United States, martial roles and mental health on Hmong females, and comparisons of Hmong traditional healing and Westernized medicine. These studies intersect in fields including psychology, medicine and public health, Hmong history, and social work. However, one missing component to this body of scholarship has been communication. Thus, my study focused on younger Hmong people’s willingness to communicate about depression within their families. Specifically, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five Hmong participants (three males, two females) ages 18-35 and conducted a thematic analysis of the data. Findings indicated the importance of maintaining and communicating family identity and barriers preventing Hmong people talking about depression. First, results shows that identity and adherence to family is significant in the Hmong culture, gender expectations and traditions are valued, and younger Hmong people maintain intersectional identities that influence how they choose to talk about depression within their dominant culture. Second, participants identified multiple barriers that prevent Hmong people from openly talking about depression, including its lack of visibility; its connection to spiritual and religious beliefs; and its stigmatization within both Hmong and American culture.


Anne Kerber

Committee Member

Deepa Oommen

Committee Member

Marlene Tappe

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)

Program of Study

Communication Studies


Arts and Humanities



Rights Statement

In Copyright