Bilingual gatekeepers’ experiences of immigrant women’s acculturative stress and mental health improvement in Korea: A qualitative analysis
One phenomenon of globalization that we have been witnessing in recent decades is that of mass migration of people (as well as goods), all over the world. Such a migration is usually accompanied by the need to adapt to a new culture, society, and language, as well as the lack of previous connections and support.
The work that I have chosen to highlight describes a case study of women who work to support vulnerable migrant women who have moved to Korea as part of their marriage to local men.
With sympathy and care, Yun-Jung Choi describes the challenges that such migrant women face due to the pressures to adapt to a new family culture. Such processes are often accompanied by challenges to mental health such as acculturative stress.
The study includes a brief description of a training program which was held for 17 Korean women (with a bicultural background) to work as gatekeepers who provide support, early detection of problems, and referral of clients to mental health services. The training included preparing the gatekeepers to work within multicultural communities, taught them about acculturative stress, and provided skills for mental health literacy and communication.
In a qualitative study, Choi interviewed the gatekeepers after experiencing work in the field – visiting immigrant married women for an hour per week over an 8-week period of time.
The interviews describe the delicate process in which the workers expose their initial challenges in connecting with the women, the benefits of speaking the client’s mother tongue as a form of connecting and expressing warmth, the ability to connect the clients with mental health services, and the sense of satisfaction and the fulfillment they gained through helping their clients.
I recommend this piece of work for its humanity, humility, and care. In a simple clear study, the author invites us to the world of those who are vulnerable and reminds us of the strengths and merits of human connection and giving.
Keren Segal | Associate Editor