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Am J Community Psychol. 2016 Sep;58(1-2):211-25. doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12085. Epub 2016 Sep 5.

Toward a Culturally Responsive Model of Mental Health Literacy: Facilitating Help-Seeking Among East Asian Immigrants to North America.

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Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Centre for Clinical Research in Health and Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Culture & Mental Health Research Unit, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Studies have consistently found that East Asian immigrants in North America are less likely to use mental health services even when they experience levels of distress comparable to Euro-Americans. Although cultural factors that may prevent East Asian immigrants from seeking mental health care have been identified, few studies have explored ways to foster appropriate help-seeking and use of mental health services. Recent work on mental health literacy provides a potential framework for strategies to increase appropriate help-seeking and use of services. This paper reviews the literature on help-seeking for mental health problems among East Asian immigrants living in Western countries to critically assess the relevance of the mental health literacy approach as a framework for interventions to improve appropriate use of services. Modifications needed to develop a culturally responsive framework for mental health literacy are identified.


Access to mental health services; East Asian immigrants; Help-seeking; Mental health literacy

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