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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;56(4):436-47. doi: 10.1177/0020764009105647. Epub 2009 Aug 3.

Changes in the sociocultural reality of chinese immigrants: challenges and opportunities in help-seeking behaviour.

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  • 1Hunter College School of Social Work, City University of New York, 129 E. 79th Street, New York, NY 10075, USA.



This paper uses findings from a larger study to present a nuanced depiction of the interplay of informal and formal help-seeking processes of a sample of Chinese immigrants in their mental healthcare in New York City.


Thirty one participants who were receiving mental health treatment were interviewed with regard to their experiences preceding their suicide attempt. Their narratives were coded for thematic analysis.


Acculturation difficulties, inaccessibility to services and stigma associated with mental illness were major obstacles in the participants' help-seeking process, which was consistent with other studies of immigrants of ethnic minority groups in the USA. In addition, the findings showed how changes in this sample of Chinese immigrants' socio-cultural reality disrupted familiar help-seeking pathways, and perpetuated and amplified the aforementioned stressors. Issues of human connection, immigrants' resiliency and missed opportunities were also identified as potential resources to modify cultural stigmas and help-seeking behaviour.


There are varied socio-cultural factors that need to be considered in mental health outreach services in immigrant communities.

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