John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal, Ph.D., is an associate professor, psychologist, performer, activist, and author, who received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University. As an assistant professor of psychology and mental health counseling at John Jay College of Criminal Justice- City University of New York, he has published several works focusing on Filipino American, ethnic minority, and LGBTQ issues in the fields of psychology and education. He is the author of the books Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice and Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives. He is an executive board member of the Asian American Psychological Association, the president of the metro New York Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), and a FANHS National Trustee. Finally, he is a former grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections, which funded the Physical Activity and Pilipino American Youth Assessment (PAPAYA) project- a national research project examining the physical activity, nutrition, and mental health of Filipino American youth across the United States.
Background: Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American/ Pacific Islander population in the United States and are projected to become the largest Asian American population by 2010 (Nadal, 2009). The limited research on Filipino Americans has found several health and mental health disparities that greatly impact the community (see Nadal, 2009 for a review). Filipino Americans have been found to have a higher prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease than other Asian American groups, with a prevalence that is comparable to African Americans. Among Asian Americans, Filipinos have the highest proportion of overweight or obese adults, and higher rates of diabetes than the general population. Filipino Americans also tend to have higher prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use than other Asian American groups, and some studies have indicated that Filipino Americans have higher prevalence of depression than the general American population and that rates of suicide ideation is double in Filipino American youth than the general American population.
Physical activity has been shown to ameliorate many of these health conditions (CDC, 1999). A community study found that although physical activity and nutrition were becoming increasingly relevant among Filipino American youth, parents were more inclined to support their children’s involvement in after school tutoring programs rather than athletics and physical activity. However, regular physical activity is still not viewed as a valued cultural norm within the Filipino American community (CANFIT, 2003).
Specific Aims: The PAPAYA Project examined Filipino American youth and the cultural, socio-economical and mental health experiences that influence physical activity. This project will assess the physical activity practices and environments of Filipino American youth, by examining: (a) youth knowledge of and attitudes about physical activity, (b) physical activity habits, (c) access to safe play spaces for physical activity, (d) built environment and social environmental factors in each study area (e) body image and self-esteem, (f) peer and family influence, (g) screen time influence (h) knowledge of and attitudes about mental health treatment, and (i) experiences with race, ethnicity, and acculturation.
My New Connections Experience
I applied for New Connections because I wanted to be part of a program that supported my work. It can often be lonely for a person of color to be in academia, particularly when you come from an ethnic group that is often invisible completely. It was only natural that I would jump at the opportunity to be part of a program that advocates for the visibility of young researchers of color. I was especially impressed by the types of work that the New Connections alumni had conducted in the past, and I wanted to be able to be part of this group. And the fact that the program also offered both financial support and mentoring made it even more enticing.
Being part of New Connections has been priceless. Not only was I provided the financial support to conduct the research I am passionate about, but I have been able to network with some of the most amazing and inspiring people. The New Connections symposium and the Active Living Research have been especially helpful in learning new and innovative ways of conceptualizing my research and analyzing my data. Meeting peers who are working on similar types of projects has inspired me to continue doing the work that I am passionate about. My mentor has been so valuable in providing guidance in my research, as well as my professional development. Having all of this support is especially important for an early career professional, like myself, because I have been provided with resources and knowledge that I would have been exposed to otherwise. I will forever be grateful for having this opportunity. Thank you to RWJF, New Connections, and Active Living Research for all that you have done for me.
Dr. Nadal’s research has focused primarily on multicultural issues in psychology, including impacts of racial discrimination and racial/ethnic/sexual identity development on mental health. Specifically, his research aims to examine the psychological impacts of microaggressions, or subtle and often unconscious forms of discrimination that send denigrating messages to people of color, women, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender individuals. His work on Filipino Americans has advocated for disaggregating broad racial categories, understanding marginalized populations, and dispelling the Model Minority Myth. Finally, his research on the intersections of identities, namely race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, aims to understand the mental health experiences of various oppressed individuals and groups, in hopes of leading to culturally competent counseling and clinical services.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2010, Active Living Research (ALR)
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Childhood Obesity
- Project Name: Physical Activity and Pilipino American Youth Assessment