‘How people from Chinese backgrounds make sense of and respond to experiences of mental distress: Thematic analysis

Yuet Wah Yeung, F Irvine, Siu Man Ng, K.M.S Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction: Late presentation and low utilisation of mental health services are common among Chinese populations. An understanding of their journey towards mental health care helps to identify timely and appropriate intervention.

Aim: We aimed to examine how Chinese populations make sense of the experiences of mental distress, and how this understanding influences their pathways to mental health care.

Method: We undertook in-depth interviews with fourteen people with mental health problems and sixteen family members. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data.

Results / Discussions: Different conceptualisation of mental distress and the stigma attached to mental health problems explained why most participants accessed services at crisis points. Because of mental illness stigma, they were reluctant to seek help outside of the family. Participants used a pragmatic pluralistic approach to incorporate ritual healing and western interventions to manage mental distress as they travelled further on the pathway journey. Families play a key role in the journey and are prepared to visit different parts of the world to seek traditional healers.

Implications for practice: Mental health nurses need to adopt a transcultural working approach to address mental health issues so that family will get the support needed to continue their caring role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-599
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number8
Early online date3 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2017


  • Chinese
  • cultural issues
  • mental distress
  • mental health care
  • shame
  • stigma


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