Perceptions of mental health, help-seeking, and counselling among the Chinese community in Northern Ireland

  • Ulrike Speers

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Mental health services are often underused or not accessed by ethnic minority groups, although early prevention can make a real difference to individual lives. Further research is required in this area. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of mental health, help-seeking, and counselling among the Chinese community in Northern Ireland.
This research is a qualitative study employing an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach. Data were collected, using indepth interviews with 30 adult members of the Chinese community in NI.
Ten recurrent themes (RT) emerged through the findings and were grouped into three sections: Mental health, help-seeking, and counselling. Firstly, mental health comprised three RTs: ‘It was kind of a taboo’ – ingrained associations and behaviours; ‘A journey’ – shifts in perspective towards understanding and tolerance; Transformative influences – ‘it can change your mind’. Secondly, four RTs were identified in help-seeking: Paths of helpseeking – informal and formal ways; ‘Shut the door, no one can see!’ – isolation through sociocultural and interpersonal issues; ‘I did not know where to go’ – insights into the difficulties of accessing services; Language and communication – a barrier. Thirdly, counselling comprised three RTs: Impact of counselling within the Chinese community; An unfamiliar treatment method – ‘what would you actually do?’; Issues of trust – a barrier.
Recommendations include a call for culturally adequate, up-to-date, and locally relevant information supplied and distributed by health service providers to enhance de-stigmatisation of mental health issues, improve accessibility to help-seeking, and increase understanding of counselling among the Chinese community in NI.
​​​​​​​In conclusion, this study found that information about mental health, helpseeking, and counselling must be tailored towards the Chinese community’s cultural needs to enhance understanding of common mental health issues, overcome the complexity of accessing help, and clarify understanding and benefits of counselling for mental health issues and stressful life events.
Date of AwardJan 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnne Moorhead (Supervisor)

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