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Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, Ph.D.
Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, Ph.D.


The importance of family for college students' mental health.

Creative Vix/Pixels
Source: Creative Vix/Pixels

"Think for yourself."

“Be your own person.”

“Don’t be so dependent.”

“Cut the cord.”

This is the advice college students are often given when they rely on their parents too much. But how much is too much?

Familismo is a central Latinx cultural value. It involves dedication, commitment, and loyalty to family. Regularly spending time with one’s immediate and extended family is part of familismo. It also involves seeking the family’s advice for important decisions. Sometimes familismo means putting the family above oneself. It may even mean helping one’s parents and siblings with money.

Research shows that familismo is strong among Latinx college students. However, familismo is also strong among Asian American college students. Both Latinx and Asian American cultures emphasize interdependence. Interdependence includes a focus on family relationships. Familismo is less strong among White college students, who are raised to be independent.

Family responsibilities can be a burden for college students of any cultural background. Yet, research has found that familismo is associated with mental health for Latinx, Asian American, and White college students. Mental health involved low stress, anxiety, and depression, and high positive feelings. So, maintaining family connections is good for the mental health of students from any cultural background.

Can college students be too involved with their families? If family involvement interferes with a student’s education, it could be over-involvement. However, we should not be so quick to dismiss family involvement as detrimental for college students.

Latinx Americans are negatively portrayed in today’s political climate. So, it is especially important to appreciate their contributions to American culture. Latinx familismo may be something all groups can emulate to improve their mental health.


Campos, B., Ullman, J., Aguilera, A., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2014). Familism and psychological health: The intervening role of closeness and social support. Journal of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 20, 191–201. doi: 10.1037/a0034094

About the Author
Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, Ph.D.

Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon with a focus in culture and mental health.

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