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An exploration of understandings of mental health and mental health services among young British Pakistani adults in London

Ahmed, S. (2019). An exploration of understandings of mental health and mental health services among young British Pakistani adults in London. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

The United Kingdom (UK) is widely recognised for its diversity in ethnicity and culture, yet there seems to be a gap in our understanding of the impact of mental health difficulties on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. Despite South Asians representing the largest growing ethnic minority group in the UK, little is known regarding their experiences of and approaches to mental health. Yet high risks of psychological distress and low rates of service utilisation have been reported for this population. Young adults have further been identified as a high risk group, as 18–34 year olds show elevated levels of anxiety and depression.

A qualitative approach was used to explore understandings of mental health and mental health services among young British Pakistani adults. Twelve individuals (six male, six female) aged 18–24 participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analysed using thematic analysis (TA).

Seven overarching themes emerged from the data set: ‘Defining mental health’, ‘General mental health awareness’, ‘Cultural and religious stigma within the Pakistani community’, ‘How mental illnesses are dealt with within Pakistani families’, ‘Openness to seeking support’, ‘Barriers to help-seeking exist’ and ‘Seeking professional help is beneficial although help-seeking stigma does exist’. Overall the findings suggested that participants lacked awareness of mental health problems and of available services. Participants highlighted the importance of generational dynamics and the immediate family system with regards to mental health acceptance and help-seeking. The role of culture and supernatural explanations in understanding mental illness was also flagged, as was the urgent need to raise awareness among the Pakistani community in order to reduce barriers to help-seeking linked to shame, pride and culture.

Based on these research findings implications for clinical practice are outlined. It is hoped that these will help counselling psychologists and other mental health professionals to become more culturally sensitive, and thus approachable, when working with this group.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Date Deposited: 05 May 2020 12:49
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/24146
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