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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Chinese women's experiences of accessing mental health services Chong, Susan


Research worldwide has found the existence of factors adversely influencing Chinese communities’ access to mental health services. Stigma, shame and ‘loss of face’ have played a major role in the underutilization of mental health services by Chinese communities. However, there is little research available in Canada that examines mental health and the general adult Chinese population, particularly gender effects. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to examine Chinese women’s experiences of access to mental health services in an urban context in British Columbia. This study was to seek the perspective of Chinese women and providers as to what were the challenges to and facilitators of Chinese women’s access to mental health services. Interpretive description was used as the research method for this study and enabled an analytic framework formulated from existing knowledge in the field. This assisted in developing knowledge about Chinese women’s illness experiences related to access of mental health services. Purposive sampling was used. In-depth interviews with 7 Chinese women, 2 non Chinese women and 2 health care providers were conducted and the data analyzed. Five themes emerged through the data: 1) stigma and mental illness, 2) social supports: connections with families and friends and the double edged sword, 3) language and access, 4) lack of coordinated, seamless care and the intersection with mental health literacy and 5) health care providers and peer support: navigating mental health services. From these findings, several recommendations were made to reduce stigma and improve access to mental health service. Nurses need to provide culturally competent care, for example, by using professional interpreters when appropriate. In addition, nurses need to be aware of mental health services and other relevant resources inside and outside of the health care system. Nurses are in a good position to provide education to increase mental health literacy and reduce stigma. Also, nurses can advocate and collaborate with community agencies, policy decision-markers and other health care professionals to enhance access to services.

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