Main Article Content
Objective: This paper aims to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic affects the mental distress of the Vietnamese students in the USA. We explore different root causes of mental distress among international students who are away from their home country, their loved ones, and being isolated from school and community due to this outbreak.
Design: In-depth interviews were conducted to probe the reasons for mental stress during the pandemic and the narrative textual analysis was subsequently performed to analyze the results. This research includes the interviews of 20 Vietnamese students in the USA during the COVID-19 era.
Results: The textual analysis showed that the mental distress of these Vietnamese students were caused by limited access to on-campus facilities and activities, limited access to public services including grocery shopping, transportations, clinics, the possibility of being infected, isolated living condition due to the lockdown order, and inability to go back to the home country when wanted.
Conclusions: We found that both physical attributes (e.g., living condition, internet difficulty, overwhelmed healthcare system, restricted traveling, lack of personal interaction, limited access to public services) and psychological factors (e.g., anxiety of unfamiliar teaching modality, fear of viral infection, uncertain career aspects, cultural barrier and prejudice) directly led to the mental distress of these students. Moreover, other factors such as turbulent future job markets and potential racism toward Asians in relation with “Chinese virus” may cause the mental distress of these students.